Your hearing aid fitting is a day of great anticipation. It is the day when you are fit with your hearing devices and walk out into a new world of hearing. There is more to the fitting than just putting hearing devices in your ears. When you leave the office, you should: be hearing sound at a level that is both beneficial to you and comfortable; know how to care for, maintain and troubleshoot your devices; know how to change the batteries; and be armed with a few helpful tips to adjust to your new world of hearing. If any accessories came along with your devices, you should also know how to use them.
The fitting experience will be enjoyable, but all the information can be a bit overwhelming. Make sure that you do not get too caught up in the moment and not listen to the instructions and counseling your hearing care provider is giving you. It may be a good idea to bring along your spouse or a friend who can be listening to what your hearing care provider is saying while you are concentrating on the hearing aspect.
Here’s what you should expect:
Hearing Device Counseling
The world of sound is going to change the moment you walk out the door. Your hearing care provider is going to explain what your realistic expectations should be. No one has ever successfully adapted to hearing devices without realistic expectations, a positive attitude and patience. Your hearing loss and related loss of speech understanding most likely took years to get to the level where it is today. Realistically, it takes about 10 weeks for the brain and the auditory system to work together. Results will come with time. Try not to give your auditory senses an overload by going out immediately to a loud and noisy place. Take it slow and build up to those more noisy environments. You are going to hear sounds that you have not heard in a while—some will pleasantly surprise you, and others may sound exaggerated. Background noises that you could not hear because of your hearing loss will suddenly be heard. Your brain will need some time to figure out what is important to you in different sound situations. Your hearing devices are doing their best to give you the proper speech-to-noise ratios, but it really comes down to how quickly your brain adapts. Patience is key.
Hearing Device Programming
The hearing aid fitting should get you very close to your desired target levels. During the fitting process, both your audiometric data—obtained during your clinical hearing evaluation—and real-ear measurements will be used to program the frequency settings in your devices to your target hearing levels. The real-ear test uses a probe tube, placed in the ear canal along with the hearing devices, to measure how you hear different frequencies compared to target. Programming adjustments are made to the devices to ensure that you are receiving the maximum benefit at each frequency. However, your tolerance for sound is an important factor. Sometimes, having not heard certain sounds at their actual volume levels for a long time, hearing with your devices can be disconcerting. Your hearing care provider can program your hearing settings at levels that are both beneficial and comfortable during the initial fitting process.
Follow-up care ensures that you are adapting properly to your hearing devices. Communication is important. Your hearing care provider needs to know how you are hearing sound, and, particularly, how you are hearing sound in different environments. Today’s technologies allow the hearing care provider to respond to most all of your individual needs. Again, patience is key. People who are more active, have more acute hearing or are in more demanding sound situations may require more programming adjustments and time to adapt. Don’t give up, have patience and communicate your needs to your hearing care provider.
Shortly after you begin wearing your hearing instruments and on into the future, your hearing care provider will conduct various tests to measure the benefits you are receiving from your hearing devices. These tests will be used to monitor your progress and determine if additional programming is required.
Frequency of Visits
Sound perception is unique to every individual. Additionally, lifestyle, hearing needs and activity levels are unique to each individual. Those with more demanding lifestyles, particularly musicians, may need more programming adjustments and more time to adapt than the average person. One of the biggest advantages of the new technologies is the ability to program the devices to the specific hearing needs of each individual.
Typically, after the fitting, you will have a follow up visit within 1–2 weeks and then usually another follow up after 30 days. From then on, you should be seen every six months—or more often if the need arises. Don’t be a stranger to your hearing care provider. If you are having difficulty in certain sound situations or if you are having a problem, come in right away. You and your hearing care provider have the same common goal: helping you improve and maintain your hearing.
The performance of the hearing aids in Bend is the responsibility of the wearer. Your hearing care provider will cover the daily care and maintenance procedures for the particular style of hearing device you wear. Wax, debris, moisture and neglect will hinder the devices’ performance and reduce the quality of sound. By following a daily routine of care and maintenance, you will keep your hearing devices performing at their optimal level and extend their useful life for many years.