The Merits of Real Ear Measurement
While hearing aids are meant to improve the wearer's ability to hear and comprehend speech and sound clarity, some hearing aid users have found themselves dissatisfied with the consistency of their hearing aid performance.
That's because most hearing instrument specialists use the factory default settings for the hearing aid when fitting them, and don't account for the shape of the individual's ear.
Real Ear Measurement will significantly enhance your hearing experience if you are disappointed with your hearing aids' low-quality output. Based on your ears' exact acoustic properties, it allows for a more accurate, customized fitting. Here, we explore the importance of Real Ear Measurement and why we use this best practice to fit hearing aids at Ascent Audiology & Hearing.
What is Real Ear Measurement (REM)?
Just like a sound engineer wouldn't use the same mixer settings for a stadium gig as he would for a show at a small intimate venue, hearing aid programming needs to account for the size and shape of each individual's ear.
When it comes to fitting hearing aids, REM is considered the best practice process. The technique aims to assess whether the individual has the exact amplification rates required to achieve the best possible hearing gain at any frequency.
What’s the Real Ear Measurement Process?
A long, thin probe microphone is inserted into the ear canal in the ear canal, stopping a half-inch short of the eardrum. The audiologist then places the hearing aid in the user's ear and plays sounds through it.
They then measure whether the hearing aid's sound matches the prescriptive target. If it isn't, they will make some programming changes to the hearing aid. If the hearing aid sounds too noisy, tinny, or echoey, the audiologist can also change the hearing aid's sound to improve it.
The user will be ready to wear the hearing aids when they are completely satisfied with the sound.
Follow up appointments are not uncommon. These ensure the user is completely satisfied with the sound when the device is used in a range of environments.
The Benefits of REM
Recent research from the University of Washington in St. Louis showed that four in five patients favored REM-fitted hearing aids over factory default measurements. The technique managed to improve voice comprehension by 15 percent and enhance hearing in background noise.
There are a few reasons why REM is superior to the 'one size fits all' method.
It's a more objective way of measuring a good fit. In a standard fitting without Real Ear Measurement, the hearing specialist usually adjusts the hearing aid settings according to what the user thinks of each adjustment. This technique relies too heavily on the individual's whims and is not always an objective measurement.
On the other hand, REM uses graphs to provide the audiologist with the actual performance of the patient's hearing aid. It helps them change the hearing aid's output to ensure that it is ideal for the patient's exact hearing loss needs.
It takes the unique ear shape into account. REM focuses not only on the nature and degree of hearing loss; it also considers the unique structure of your ear. Structural variables such as the volume of your ear canal can significantly affect the system's output. This detail cannot be reliably assessed by the programming software many other audiologists rely on.
The result is unacceptable levels of amplification and substandard performance. Real-ear verification provides superior precision and gives an accurate assessment of the hearing aids' efficacy.
Shockingly, studies show that fewer than 30 percent of all hearing services practitioners use Real Ear Measurement when fitting hearing aids. Those who do not use REM might complain about how costly or time-consuming the procedure is, but we believe it is worth it if the patient is happy. This is why we believe our team at Ascent Audiology & Hearing stands out above the rest!
If you're looking to benefit from hearing aids fit according to gold-standard methods, contact us today to set up an appointment.