When your hearing loss has a negative impact on your day-to-day life, it’s understandable to want a solution fast. Online shops and big box stores offer tempting “solutions” for people in this predicament. While some people may be satisfied with a quick-fix approach, many are not. When you order hearing aids online or purchase them at a big-box store, you’ll have hearing aids, but you’ll have a one-size-fits-all product rather than a personalized solution.
Why is that a problem?
• Everyone has a unique ear shape. Mail order hearing aids often fit poorly, making them uncomfortable to wear.
• Big box stores often have limited product choices and lack state-of-the-art circuit selection.
• Over-the-counter hearing aids act as a microphone for the world. They make sounds louder, but they don’t distinguish between the noises you’re missing and the ones you already hear. This amplifies frustrating problems more than it solves them as your hearing aids can’t tell the difference between the sound of wind versus a person talking.
If both the fit and sound quality of your hearing aids are poor, you’re going to be dissatisfied. Unfortunately, roughly 70% of hearing aid providers fail to complete tests procedures that maximize your hearing potential. At Elkhart Audiology, these tests are standard practice.
There are several game-changing elements to our hearing aid testing and customization process, patient continued product selection, real ear measures and the programming expertise of your provider.
Common Lifestyle Considerations and Hearing Goals are Patient Specific
•Motorcyclists often want hearing aids with more wind reduction so they can enjoy their ride without overpowering wind sounds.
•Nature enthusiasts miss soft sounds of chirping birds and flowing water that can be rediscovered.
•Musicians require precise, clear sound quality so they can hear their part in a performance.
•Social individuals look for speech identification features that make family reunions and dinners with friends more enjoyable experiences.
•Those who are still working need to be able to listen in meetings, take notes, and communicate effectively with co- workers and clients.
•People of faith want to understand the speaker and musicians during worship services.
These are scenarios we encounter on a regular basis. We can use this information to choose a product that will meet your listening needs.
The Real Ear Process
We conduct various tests that decipher which sounds you’re missing. From there, we can determine frequency by frequency targets for audibility of sound whether they might fit into a category of soft, medium, or loud. Finally, we place a tiny microphone in your ear canal alongside your hearing aid. During this phase, we take measurements of the actual sounds, aided by the hearing aid, within your ear. We know without a doubt how the device is performing for you and make targeted changes through our programming software until we are where we should be.
These steps allow us to adjust your devices and fine-tune them for your specifications. This is especially essential in amplification. Most people don’t need or want every sound to be amplified, and hearing aids that are too loud or quiet are useless to the user.
Real ear often reduces the number of appointments needed for adjustments, so you get more time for activities you enjoy.
Going through with real ear measures takes extra care. However, the end result is a set of hearing aids customized to you — not a mass market product that winds up sitting on the shelf when the wearer finds it uncomfortable or unproductive.
Programming Hearing Aids
A number of our clients come to us with hearing aids they’ve purchased through a different audiologist or company. Many come convinced that their hearing aids are broken, or that hearing aids will never work for them because the ones they have aren’t meeting their needs. More often than not, these clients purchased hearing aids through someone who didn’t know how to adjust them, didn’t have the right equipment, or didn’t take the time to properly do so.
Fortunately, we’re often able to reprogram the hearing aids in our office. In some cases, we can use provided audiological charts to direct our programming. Other times, tests are required. In either case, we get the benefit of watching our clients’ faces light up when they realize hearing aids do make a different — if the proper ear piece is used, the hearing aids are carefully programmed, and you’re properly instructed on the available features.
Hearing Aid Capabilities
Modern hearing aid have numerous features and advantages. Each model comes with a different set of capabilities, and it’s important to understand all of your hearing aids’ functionalities so you get the most out of your devices.
Features of Popular Hearing Aid Models
Often times people who buy hearing aids aren’t told about all of their features. This can lead to frustration with the product or unnecessary purchases.
Here are a few examples.
Many people have come to us not knowing that their phone can act as a remote control for their hearing aids if they have the right app.
Others believe that they need to buy a whole new set of hearing aids in order to watch TV without dealing with competing voices or sounds from the kitchen when, in reality, all they need is a $300 audio streamer.
We are happy to educate you on your hearing devices and make recommendations that can help you enjoy the products you have and prevent you from buying a whole new pair of hearing aids. Sometimes, making a new purchase is the best solution. However, we can often conduct small changes that make a big difference in your hearing aids’ performance.
Custom Ear Piece Advantages
Custom molds allow us to hit the targets that are unreachable using disposable domes supplied standard by a manufacture. Unique ear shapes and power requirements need special attention, and real ear will show where power is lacking or where feedback is occurring, which compromises performance.
Custom ear pieces give people with unique ear shapes a product that’s comfortable in everyday use.
When combined with the real ear process, we can adjust the power levels of custom ear pieces and minimize feedback, maximizing the overall performance and quality of your hearing aids.
In addition, most quality hearing aids can have up to three or four different program settings. However, many people who visit our office were only fit with one program. These program settings give you the ability to adjust your hearing aids for situational needs. If your hearing aids can have three or four custom programs, you can have one setting for everyday speech, one for when you’re riding in the back seat of a vehicle, and another for bird watching and other adventures in nature.
Hearing Aid Updates
Manufacturers update hearing aid circuit & software regularly. If your hearing aids aren’t updated with the software, then you’re not getting the most out of your product. Our team regularly participates in continued education presentations in order to take full advantage of the sound processing features in your hearing aid. Small nuances can provide you with noticeable differences.
Hearing Aids and Self-Care
People who lose their hearing as adults often experience deep isolation, depression, and grief. Being pulled from social circles and unable to relate to friends and family forces individuals into dangerous solitude. Their inability to participate in beloved hobbies or valued faith practices diminishes their quality of life.
At its worst, hearing loss isn’t only annoying, it’s life threatening.
We advocate for customized hearing aids, real ear measures, and expert hearing aid programming not only because that’s the best practice, but also because we’ve seen what they’ve done for real people.
There’s nothing better than having a client come to our office after living with their new hearing aids a few weeks and seeing the difference in their confidence and demeanor. They got their life back, and no one even noticed the tiny, modern hearing aids in their ears.
If you or your loved one needs hearing aids, think of going through the real ear process as a matter of self care. Without it, your physical and emotional health will be at risk, but with it, there’s new hope for reclaiming a vital, engaged life. Call our office at (574) 262-3277 to make an appointment or schedule a no-charge consultation.