Hearing aids work the best when they are properly adjusted and fitted. To get your hearing instruments working right, you’ll go to a hearing aid fitting appointment. This appointment lasts between one and two hours. During the appointment, your hearing provider will verify the hearing aids are providing the correct amount of amplification to your ears. Your hearing specialist will program your hearing aids based on the results of the hearing test conducted during your prior appointment. Then, he or she will make changes to the hearing aids and amplification based on your individual preferences and unique listening environments.

But how do hearing care providers know when a hearing aid is working right?

Fitting your hearing aid

Many digital hearing aids make figuring out the amplification of loud, moderate and loud noises easier than ever. However, many hearing practitioners still rely on a method called the real ear measurement.

At a hearing aid fitting, a hearing professional may perform real ear measures to determine if the hearing aids are providing the right amount of amplification for your hearing loss. Real ear measures are recommended by The America Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) as the preferred method of verifying performance and amplification of hearing aids.

The ear measure allows the hearing provider to figure out how loud you perceive sounds in your ear canal.

How the test works

To perform this test, the hearing care practitioner will examine the ear canal with an otoscope to make sure there is no earwax in the way of where the probe tube will be placed. Then, they will insert the thin probe tube into the ear canal, about 1/4 inch away from the tympanic membrane. The probe tube is connected to a microphone, which measures the volume of sound near the eardrum, without a hearing aid. Next, the hearing aid is inserted into the ear.

After turning the hearing aid on, the hearing specialist uses an REM system to produce a sound a measure the volume of sound at the output of the hearing aid. The hearing care professional will play different volumes of sound, from soft to very loud, in order to determine that soft sounds are amplified loud enough to hear them, that moderate sounds are amplified to a comfortable level and that loud sounds do not exceed a comfortable level for you, the listener. 

This test is vital to a successful hearing aid fitting. If these measures aren’t completed or accurate, then hearing practitioner will not know if your hearing aids are programmed correctly. Once hearing aids are programmed correctly, your hearing care provider can easily review and care for your hearing aids.