How a hearing aid is chosen and set up

When deciding upon a hearing aid, there are a few important points which must be addressed before it is first chosen, then programmed to meet the needs of those wearing them.

We will begin the process by asking about your general health, hearing history and concerns, then proceed with an ear exam and comprehensive hearing test.   At this point, however, we only know about the needs of the ear, but nothing of the needs of the person, which is  -by far- the most important component, as it’s people who hear, not ears and it’s people who wear hearing aids, again not the ears.

Choosing a hearing aid which matches your lifestyle is paramount; this will ensure that the technology level suits the individual.  Those active in quiet environments do not need the most advanced hearing aid, whereas those who are very active in all-weather out-of-doors activities will need wind and water resistance models, for example.  Another point to consider is whether dexterity plays an issue, which can be a mitigating factor for some hearing aid models due to the smaller sized batteries and parts.

So now we’ve chosen the hearing aid that takes into account how the person wants it to look, operate and how much they wish to spend; next comes the fitting.

This first appointment will concerns itself with the care and handling of the hearing aids and the actual fitting, which for some can be quite fascinating once all is described.

Hearing aids are capable of some pretty amazing things, many of which most people are unaware of:

  • We can instruct the aid to grab sounds from 360 degrees when in quiet, to a very narrow and focused direction when in a busy restaurant;  like horse-blinders, the aid will for the most part amplify sounds from directly in front and filter those from the rear.
  • With respect to ambient noise, they can cut out most ‘humming and hissing’ sounds from machines and wind, but allow some to be heard when it is useful to do so, such as hearing the dishwasher quietly and knowing when its cycle is finished.
  • They can be programmed to separately amplify how you hear loud, medium and soft sounds.  For example, someone may like how the hear conversation levels, yet find that either loud or soft sounds seem over or under amplified.  These adjustments can be easily accomplished through programming.
  • The tone will also be adjusted and in many cases with very specific goals in mind.  Like a bass and treble control on a stereo, hearing aids have upwards of 20 channels to exactly set the tone; even discreet changes such as lowering  the loud beep from a microwave can be altered without interfering with anything else.
  • Hearing aids can also be wirelessly Blue toothed to a cell phone, TV or church pulpit, ridding one of the need for headphones or fighting to hear phone conversations in noisy environments.
  • Specialty programs can be set up for specific circumstances, such as golfing or live theatre, which gives one the ability to hear well in places they couldn’t with older generation hearing aids.

There are still more features that are available for the asking but in the end, with all we as a profession have to offer, it is only with the input of those being fitted that everything mentioned above will indeed create a fine hearing aid fitting.

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