When your audiologist recommends hearing aids, selection is only the beginning of the process. Equally important is the fitting, which involves programming your hearing aids and making adjustments to provide the correct levels of amplification for your particular hearing loss. Counseling is a necessary step to ensure you have realistic expectations, and is crucial for long-term success.
What Is Hearing Aid Counseling?
Before you ever put on hearing aids, you’ll receive counseling to prepare you for this change in your lifestyle. While hearing aids will undoubtedly improve your communication abilities, it is important to understand they are not a cure for hearing loss, and do have certain limitations. Learning what to expect beforehand will help you achieve the maximum benefit from your devices.
How Are Hearing Aids Fitted?
Your audiologist at University of the Pacific will check the physical fit to make sure they are comfortable. They will then be programmed and adjusted based on your hearing loss and lifestyle needs. The hearing aids will be placed in your ears and turned on, allowing your audiologist to measure the volume levels to ensure that you are hearing the full range of sounds properly.
Real Ear Measurements/Speech Mapping
One of the most important aspects of a hearing aid fitting is a real ear measurement. After your hearing evaluation, we input your hearing test results into our specialized hearing aid software, which allows the hearing aid to calculate how much volume you need. This must be verified by measuring the amount of volume you receive in your ear canal.
A real ear measurement involves placing a tiny tube microphone next to your eardrum prior to inserting your hearing aid into the ear canal. We will play a series of speech balanced passages (passages with all the sounds in English, or passages with multi-lingual speech sounds) at different volumes to measure how much volume you are receiving at each frequency to match your prescription for the particular amount of hearing loss you have. While a hearing test measures how much volume you need to hear at each frequency, the real ear measurements take into account the size and shape of your ear canal. Every ear canal is different (even between the right and the left) and therefore, it is very important to fit hearing aids using real ear measurements in order to confirm that you are meeting your prescription.
Your audiologist will discuss care and maintenance of your hearing aids. You will learn how to use them correctly and make adjustments for different hearing environments, insert and remove them, change the batteries and clean and care for them properly. You will also learn tips and strategies for better communication.
What Kind of Follow-Up Care Can I Expect?
A follow-up visit will be scheduled a few weeks after your initial fitting. During this appointment, your audiologist will fine-tune and adjust your hearing aids as needed and answer any questions you may have. It may take a while to adjust your hearing aids to their maximum effectiveness, so additional fitting appointments may be needed.Call the University of the Pacific in San Francisco at (415) 780-2001 or Stockton at (209) 946-7378 for more information or to schedule an appointment.