Take four steps and know for sure...
by Dr. R. Patrick Francis
Certified Audiologist

Most of today's hearing aids are highly flexible and can offer a wide variety of hearing solutions. Even with the best technology, your hearing aids will not perform any better than the way they were programmed. After careful analysis using these four tests, people are often amazed at how much better they are able to understand speech. In other words, they were not getting the most out of their hearing aids. 

“your hearing aids will not perform any better than the way they were programmed”

Step one is to have a current hearing evaluation. Minimal changes in your hearing can have a significant impact on how well you can hear with your hearing aids. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires a hearing evaluation within six months of any hearing aid purchase. After the initial hearing evaluation, annual testing is recommended.

The second step is to ensure that your hearing instruments are functioning within strict electronic and acoustic specifications. Testing of this type requires your hearing aids to be evaluated in a special chamber. This analysis measures critical components of hearing aid function and all results must be within the tolerances set forth by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

Programming your hearing aids is the third step. Based on your hearing evaluation, each manufacturer has prescribed hearing aid settings. These settings are used as a starting point. Beyond this point, your audiologist must rely on their professional experience, your input, and the fourth step, probe microphone measurements. 

Finally, and most importantly, we need to measure the interaction between your hearing aid and the individual characteristics of your ear. The following items are common factors that can alter expected hearing aid performance: the physical shape and size of your ear; the fit of the hearing instrument in your ear; the size and style of your hearing aid; and venting. Visible Speech Mapping is a tool designed to measure the difference between expected hearing aid performance, and what is actually happening in your ear. 

“most importantly, we need to measure the interaction between your hearing aid and the individual characteristics of your ear”

Using a probe microphone, your audiologist can measure the performance of your hearing aids in real time. This allows you to listen through your hearing aids and see the hearing aid performance on a computer screen simultaneously! When a problem is identified your audiologist will make the appropriate changes. 

“listen through your hearing aids and see the hearing aid performance on a computer screen simultaneously!”

Only probe microphone measurements allow us to see and accurately measure your hearing aid performance. As good as this test is; the initial three steps cannot be ignored. Over time your hearing will most likely change as will your hearing needs and hearing aid performance. Therefore, these four steps should be repeated as your circumstances change. Completing these four steps is the best and most accurate way to ensure that your hearing aids are programmed to the optimum settings. 

The good news is that this technology can be applied to any hearing aid at any time. Consult your audiologist so that you can “get the most out of your hearing aid”.

Happy Hearing!