The Importance of a Real-Ear Measurement
Hearing aids require precision and customization to maximize results for patients. Too soft and the listener won’t benefit from wearing the instruments, but too loud and things may become too distorted or even worse, intolerable. Since each ear hears uniquely, even on the same head, we have to consider individual differences when fitting technology. Each hearing aid manufacturer will utilize their own software and recommend a starting level based on the hearing test. This may or may not work depending on the individual characteristics of each ear. This is where a real-ear measurement comes into play.
Real-ear measurement is a tool that allows us to slip a small microphone probe into the ear past the hearing aid, and measure how much volume the hearing aid is actually providing the ear. The reason that it is important to be measuring the sound this deep in the ear, and not in a test box, is because each ear shape is unique and sound may resonate differently in a small vs. large canal. The real-ear measurement then allows us to set the hearing aid to a target level based on the hearing test and research, instead of the “stock setting” the manufacturer gave it.
Unfortunately, a real-ear measurement is a tool that is not used consistently by audiologists and hearing instrument dispensers. Some providers may feel like it takes too much time, or may simply think that the hearing aid manufacturers are doing a good enough job at suggesting levels. When a real-ear measurement isn’t made, we are simply guessing, not knowing, that the sound levels are appropriate. This is why it’s important to find a provider who consistently uses the real-ear measurement as part of their fitting protocol. Call us today to schedule a consultation to see if you are a good candidate for a well fit hearing aid!