Real Ear Measurement & Fitting
REM is not yet standard practice in the industry. Many hearing aids are sold today by hearing aid retailers or hearing healthcare practitioners, not by actual audiologists. Audiologists are doctors who are qualified to address a number of hearing-related issues.
While hearing aids can be purchased outside of audiology clinics, audiologists are prepared to help address your hearing issues holistically. They ensure that you get the appropriate care you need, not just a set of hearing aids. REM is the latest advancement in how audiologists can provide the best hearing care available by providing the best fitting available.
What Is Hearing Aid Fitting?
No two people’s hearing loss is exactly the same. When you are “fitted,” your audiologist uses the results of your hearing test to program the computers in your hearing aids for your specific hearing loss. If you purchase your hearing aids at a “big box” retailer, the fitting process will be pretty rudimentary.
Hearing loss is usually not “broadband,” meaning it is not the same across the full frequency spectrum. You may have 30 dBHL (decibels Hearing Level) of loss at 6 kHz and 20 dBHL at 1 kHz. Equalizers have been used in hearing aids for a long time to provide different levels of amplification at different frequencies, allowing your hearing aids to give you the best approximation of “normal” hearing possible.
Current hearing aid models, however, do much more than equalize. Most models will favor speech over background sound. At the same time as they boost speech, they can limit its dynamic range so that it never becomes too loud. Similarly, the level of background sound should not be uncomfortably quiet, nor so loud that you struggle to understand speech.
Typically, an initial fitment requires a hearing aid retailer to follow the hearing aid manufacturers’ guidelines about how to program their hearing aids for a customer’s hearing test results. Sometimes this works, but most of the time fitment ends up being an ongoing process. You may have to return to the hearing aid retailer again and again, as your hearing aids may not function out in the world exactly as they were intended. If fitting adjustments are not included in the price of your hearing aids, you may need to pay additionally for each adjustment.
What Is Real Ear Measurement?
REM treats the process a little differently. While your test results are still used to program your hearing aids, an additional adjustment is made before you leave our office.
Like hearing loss, not all ear canals are the same. In fact, they vary widely in shape. The shape of your ear canal has a lot to do with how you hear sound in ways that can’t be tested normally. While a standardized fitting might get close most of the time, it will never provide exactly the right amplification for any individual as it does not take into account your individual physiology.
After we make the initial programming for your hearing aids, we put your hearing aids in with a tiny microphone inside your ear canal. Now we can examine what kind of sound your hearing aids are actually producing inside your ear. While measuring with REM, we make additional adjustments to your fitting to account for the difference that your ear canals are making. This makes it much more likely that your initial fitting will work for you.
What If I Still Need Additional Fitting Adjustments?
We work closely and personally with each of our patients. While REMs help us get closer to the right fitting for you, it may still be that you find yourself uncomfortable with your hearing aids in the first few weeks. While adjusting to new hearing aids can take a while, starting out with the best fitting possible helps set you up for success.
If you have complaints about your hearing aid fitting, we are happy to make adjustments at no additional cost until you are satisfied with the sound of your hearing aids.
Have questions or would you like to schedule an appointment?
Contact us today to set up an appointment with a hearing specialist to discuss your hearing health, hearing aids and the best way to treat your hearing loss.