Importance Of Hearing Aid Fitting

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Helping Patients Understand the Hearing Aid Fitting Process

Helping customers understand the hearing aid fitting process: personalized approaches, device selection, customization, and adapting to new hearing aids.

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The Importance of Hearing Aid Fittings

Importance Of HA Fitting

Hearing loss can significantly impact one's quality of life, affecting communication, relationships, and overall well-being. Fortunately, advancements in hearing aid technology have provided a lifeline for those experiencing hearing difficulties. Once a hearing loss has been identified, the journey to better hearing begins with a crucial step: the hearing aid fitting process. 

Understanding the importance of hearing aid fittings is essential for both hearing care professionals and their clients. A properly fitted hearing aid can make a world of difference in improving the client's ability to hear and communicate effectively.  

Each patient who decides to pursue a hearing aid fitting is different in a myriad of ways, including diagnostic measures like hearing loss type and severity, as well as lifestyle differences and personal preferences. When a client arrives for their hearing aid fitting, it’s important for providers to take a personalized approach to that fit. This can be done in many ways, but two important ones include: 

1. Hearing aid fit based on Real Ear Measurements

Rear Ear Measurements (REM) are the gold standard for appropriately fitting devices customized to the wearer. REM take into account not only the individual’s hearing thresholds, but the physical characteristics of their ear and how that affects the output of sound from the hearing aid itself.

2. Addressing Specific Needs

Each client’s lifestyle will differ, and it’s important to take that into account when fitting hearing devices. This can be in the form of special settings like speech in noise or music programs. Accessories can also be utilized to help clients in their daily lives. For example, a college student may benefit from a remote microphone, or an elderly patient may benefit from a TV streamer.  

Preparing Your Patients For Their Hearing Aid Fitting Appointment

RECD Patient Sitting

Clinicians should go over the patient’s results in detail to ensure that their patients understand their hearing test and next steps. Creating an open line of communication fosters a collaborative approach, making clients feel more empowered and involved in their hearing care journey. 

Before the fitting appointment, it's crucial for clinicians to educate their patients about what to expect during the process. Share information about the duration of the appointment, the various tests involved, and the adjustments that may be made to optimize the hearing aids for individual needs. Clinicians will also likely describe the different types of hearing aids, for example, in-the-ear versus behind-the-ear, as well as the variety of hearing aid features like rechargeability, wireless connectivity, and accessories.  

Setting realistic expectations for your patient helps alleviate anxiety and ensures a smoother transition to wearing hearing aids. While hearing aids offer significant benefits, it's essential to understand that they are not a cure for hearing loss. Instead, they are powerful tools designed to enhance auditory experiences. Initially, wearers may need time to adjust to the new sounds, and the improvement in hearing may vary from person to person. Hearing aids are effective in most environments, but challenging listening situations, such as noisy crowds, may still pose difficulties.

Additionally, while modern technology minimizes feedback and improves speech clarity, perfect hearing restoration is not always achievable. Realistic expectations involve acknowledging the need for periodic adjustments, regular maintenance, and ongoing communication with hearing healthcare professionals. Despite these considerations, hearing aids can substantially improve one's ability to engage in conversations, enjoy various activities, and reconnect with the sounds of daily life. 

 

The Steps of the Hearing Aid Fitting Process 

Step 1

Comprehensive Hearing Assessment

The first step involves a thorough assessment of the client's hearing abilities. This will include audiometric tests to determine the type and degree of hearing loss.

During this initial appointment, clinicians will use other measures like tympanometry, otoscopy, masking, and speech-in-noise testing to further understand a client’s hearing abilities. They will use this information to determine if a referral to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor or other professionals is necessary and if the client may benefit from hearing aids. 

Video Otoscopy Measure

Step 2

Selection of Hearing Aid

Based on the assessment, the audiologist will recommend suitable hearing aids. Considerations include the type of hearing loss, lifestyle, and personal preferences. Some select criteria include: 

  1. Hearing Aid Type: The type of hearing aid is important for both physical fit and it’sits ability to amplify sound appropriately for each clientsclient’s hearing loss. The major types of hearing aids include – in-the-ear (ITE), behind-the-ear (BTE), and receiver-in-the-canal (RIC) devices. 
  2. Connectivity: While most modern hearing aids feature wireless connectivity for streaming and hearing aid adjustments, some smaller in-the-ear devices lack wireless connectivity. 
  3. Battery type: Hearing aids can either use disposable or rechargeable batteries. While most modern devices are rechargeable, there are certain patients and scenarios that may require disposable batteries instead.  
     
Audiology Hearing Aid Selection

Step 3

Physical Fit

The audiologist ensures the hearing aids fit comfortably and securely. ProperA proper fit is essential for optimal performance and wearer comfort. This step may include dome selection for RIC devices or custom molds. Domes are disposable pieces that keep hearing aids in the ear and affect the way sound is transmitted.  

Custom Molding Ear Hearing Aid Fitting

Step 4

Customization and Programming

Hearing aids are programmed to meet the client's specific hearing needs. This involves adjusting settings such as volume, frequency response, and noise reduction features.  

As mentioned above, this is where a clinician will likely perform REM. REM will help to ensure each frequency, or pitch, is amplified appropriately. While REM are an important step in a hearing aid fitting, clinicians will also consider patient preference and comfort. For example, a patient may not be ready for their full prescribed volume at a first fit. In this case, amplification may be lowered temporarily while the patient adjusts. 

Additionally, all the features like volume, frequency response, and noise reduction will continue to be adjusted over time to patient preference. You may not know that you need more help in noisy scenarios until you’re in one! That’s why follow-up appointments and patient reports are incredibly important. 
 

Hearin Gaid Fitting Process Customization

Step 5

Instruction and Education

Patients will receive guidance on how to insert and remove the hearing aids, change batteries, and maintain proper hygiene. Understanding daily care routines is crucial for the longevity and effectiveness of the devices. Other skills like accessory use, phone connectivity, and button use may also be reviewed, if applicable. 

Heairng Aid Instructions And Education Process Of Hearing Aid Fittings

Helping Patients Adapt to Their New Hearing Aids 

Adapting To Hearing Aids

Adapting to hearing aids is a unique journey for everyone, and it is important to understand that this is a gradual process. The initial days or even weeks with hearing aids might involve an adjustment period as their auditory system gets accustomed to the amplified sounds. Patients may need time to adapt to their target amplification and may start with a lower level of sound as they adjust. Consistent use of the hearing aids is vital during this phase, as regular usage helps the brain adapt more effectively to the enhanced auditory input. It's common for wearers to notice a significant improvement in their ability to hear and understand speech, but also to experience new or heightened sounds initially. 

It is recommended that hearing aids are worn during all waking hours. This, however, may be difficult for new users as they may be uncomfortable with the new sound or experience listening fatigue by midday. In this case, clients can slowly increase their usage time. For example, they may start by using their devices two hours at a time and increase to four hours per day the following week. 

To support patients during this transition, providing resources for troubleshooting common issues is essential. Understanding how to address minor concerns, such as feedback or adjusting volume levels, can contribute to a smoother adaptation process. Education on proper care and maintenance, including cleaning and battery replacement, ensures that the hearing aids function optimally. 

Equally important are regular follow-up appointments with hearing care professionals. These appointments serve as checkpoints to monitor the patient's progress and address any emerging challenges. Hearing aids may need fine-tuning or adjustments based on individual experiences and feedback. Addressing concerns promptly not only enhances the effectiveness of the hearing aids but also fosters a sense of support and partnership between the client and the healthcare provider throughout the hearing aid journey. This ongoing communication helps in refining the hearing experience, making it a collaborative effort towards achieving the best possible outcomes for the individual's hearing health. 

Hearing Aid Fitting Checklist

1. Comprehensive Hearing Assessment

✔️Audiometric tests conducted
✔️Type and degree of hearing loss determined 

2. Selection of Hearing Aid

✔️Recommendation based on assessment 
✔️Consideration of lifestyle and preferences 

3. Customization and Programming

✔️Adjustments for volume, frequency response, and features 
✔️Personalization with REM for optimal performance 

4. Physical Fitting

✔️Comfortable and secure fit 

5. Instruction and Education

✔️Instructions on insertion, removal, and maintenance 
✔️Guidance on daily care routines
✔️Information on battery replacement 

6. Adaptation Period

✔️Encourage consistent use 
✔️Provide resources for troubleshooting 

7. Follow-Up Appointments

✔️Monitor progress 
✔️Make necessary adjustments 

Auditdata Measure

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