The Hearing Aid Fitting Process
Questions about what happens when someone is fit with hearing aids? Dr. Egan’s most recent blog post goes over the hearing aid fitting process and timeline and what you can expect throughout your hearing aid journey.
Hi, I’m Dr. Egan at Now Hear This, and today I’m going to talk to you a little bit about the typical hearing aid fitting process and timeline. This is one of our most asked questions, so I thought it would be good to break this down for you today, as there are several different components that go into the successful fitting and adaptation to wearing and benefitting from hearing aids. The most important thing is how the hearing aids are programmed, and we will talk a little more about that later on.
But, to go in order, the first thing is the listening needs assessment. That is done as a deep dive into not only exactly how you are hearing and what your hearing test results indicate, but functionally how is your hearing loss impacting your day-to-day listening needs. Do you struggle with background noise? Do you struggle with your family at home? Are you someone who is out and about in all sorts of different listening environments? Or are you a homebody whose main goal is simply to hear the TV better. Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, so it is incredibly important to know more about you, so we can fit you with exactly the right device for your hearing loss and for your listening needs. After we determine the appropriate type of hearing aid, we schedule you for a hearing aid fitting. That is step number two. This is typically an hour-long appointment, because it is incredibly important, like I said, to have proper hearing aid programming done at that time. We use best practice Real Ear Measurement at our clinic, so we measure precisely exactly the sound that you are missing, so there’s no guesswork when we give you the prescription for your hearing aids. Unfortunately, only about 30% of audiologists follow this best practice, which is why it’s incredibly important that not only, step one determining which hearing aid is best for you is important, but step two, the programming, is equally important in this process.
At the fitting, we will give you the sound that you are missing, which is often a big jump in sound that your brain hasn’t heard for many years, so we program to 100% of your prescription, and then we take things down a couple of steps. It gets things more comfortable for your brain so that it’s easier to get used to the hearing aids. We make sure the hearing aids physically fit your ear as well, that the sound is at a good starting point, and go over the basics of how to use them. I often recommend for the fitting appointment that you bring someone with you, because it is a lot of information, and it is helpful to have an extra set of ears. After the fitting, I become more of a listening coach than anything else. I see you every couple of weeks for follow-up care where we check how are the hearing aids feeling on your ears? Do they feel secure? How are you hearing in all those environments that you originally had difficulty hearing in? We work on building up the prescription of your hearing aids in small doses so your brain can get used to the sound it was missing at a reasonable pace. Then we go over the basics of how to clean them and know how to take care of them long-term.
After we have seen you for several follow-up appointments, typically our patients are ready to graduate. At that time, I check all of their listening goals to make sure that they are met. I make sure that the hearing aids are secure, that they’re hearing everything they want to hear, and that they feel good about taking care of their hearing aids, so they last them a long time. Then we send them off into the real world. It’s always an exciting, but sad day for me, because I love getting to know my patients and helping them reach their listening goals. But of course, I’m happy they get the leave and graduate, but I’m a little sad I don’t get to see them as much. After graduation, we see you for routine maintenance. These are six-month appointments, kind of like getting your teeth cleaned. We want these hearing aids to be deeply cleaned so that they last you as long as possible. We schedule annual hearing tests as well so that we know if your hearing has changed, and we can reprogram your hearing aids accordingly.
So, that’s the hearing aid fitting process and timeline. I hope I answered some of your questions, and of course, have a wonderful rest of your day!