What to Expect From Your Hearing Aid Fitting Appointment
Have you been diagnosed with hearing loss and are considering getting hearing aids? Are you a little nervous or anxious and want to know what is involved in a hearing aid fitting? This article will cover how hearing aids are selected and fitted by your trusted audiologist and prepare you for your hearing aid fitting appointment!
Your Journey Begins With A Hearing Test And Needs Assessment
Prior to your hearing aid fitting appointment, your audiologist will complete a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of your hearing. This will determine the nature of your hearing loss and whether any further medical investigation is required. If the results indicate that further medical investigation is required, your audiologist will recommend you return to your GP for further advice and management – in which case you will need to present a medical clearance before you are fitted with hearing aids.
The assessment allows your audiologist to obtain accurate hearing thresholds so the correct hearing aid can be prescribed and fitted. It’ll include a series of tests which all provide the audiologist with a snapshot of your hearing and ear health at that moment in time. Because hearing can and does change over time, it is important that you get regular hearing tests at a frequency advised by your audiologist to monitor your hearing loss and ensure your hearing aids are optimally fitted.
Your audiologist will also perform a hearing needs assessment to determine what difficulties you are experiencing due to your hearing loss. This will involve a discussion between you and your audiologist about specific environments you are currently having trouble hearing and would like to hear better in. This is tailored to each individual and is useful in determining hearing aid benefits after you are fitted.
Choosing Hearing Aids That Are Right For You
After your hearing has been tested and you are able to proceed with hearing aids, you will be booked in for a hearing aid discussion appointment.
During the hearing aid discussion, your audiologist will ask questions about previous hearing aid use and management (including dexterity, vision, memory, and expectations). They will then explain hearing aids and their benefits and limitations, types of hearing aids, features, technology levels, repair, warranty, and maintenance.
Your audiologist will work with you to select the appropriate hearing aid for your hearing loss and needs. Depending on the type and style of hearing aid required your audiologist may need to take a cast (impression) of your ear canal using a putty-like material. This will involve placing a cotton stop in the ear canal and inserting the putty-like material which will take 5-10 minutes to set. This is then used to make custom earmolds or shells.
If you are unsure about committing to hearing aids, Attune audiologists offer you a commitment-free seven-day hearing aid trial so that you can experience the benefits of amplification in your daily life.
Government Hearing Services Program (HSP)
If you are on the government pension or are a veteran (DVA), Attune can check your eligibility for fully subsidised hearing services under the Australian Government Hearing Services Program (HSP). If you are eligible you can receive fully subsidised hearing services. If you go ahead with aids you can choose devices that are either fully or partially subsidised.
What You Need to Know About Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are devices that amplify sound to help people with hearing loss to hear better. But how do they work? Hearing aids are made up of different components including a microphone, amplifier and speaker.
- Microphone: Picks up sound travelling in the air and turns this into electrical signals.
- Amplifier: Raises the level of the electrical signal.
- Speaker: Transmits the signal back into the ear.
Types of Hearing Aids
There are various types of hearing aids on the market. Your audiologist will discuss which ones are appropriate given your hearing loss, needs, wants, and lifestyle. Broadly speaking the types of hearing aids include:
- Behind the ear (BTE): A piece that sits behind the ear and one that sits within the
ear, with a tube linking the two pieces. The piece within the ear may be non-custom (tip on the end) or custom (ear mould).
- Receiver in the canal (RIC): Similar to a BTE however it has a thin wire (receiver)
rather than a tube.
- In the ear or in the canal (ITE/ITC): One piece which inserts totally in the ear and ear canal.
- Completely in the canal (CIC): One piece which inserts further in the ear canal and cannot be easily seen.
Each type and style of hearing aid has its benefits and limitations. Which one is the right one, always depends on the individual. For example, an ITE aid is useful for elderly people who find it hard to handle small objects as it is one piece to insert. On the other hand, a RIC aid may provide a clearer sound quality given the receiver technology. Yet again, a CIC aid is desirable for those who are worried about optics. Your audiologist will help select the best one for you.
Hearing Aid Features
There are various features available in modern hearing aids including:
- Rechargeable batteries: You can get hearing aids with rechargeable batteries so you do not have to replace small batteries weekly. This is a good option for those who have difficulty managing small objects.
- Bluetooth: Hearing aids now have Bluetooth technology and directly connect to other Bluetooth devices like your smartphone. This allows you to stream media and phone calls from your phone to your hearing aid hands-free!
- Apps: Bluetooth hearing aids also come with apps that you can download on your phone and use to change volume or programs.
- Telecoil: You can get a hearing aid with a telecoil which is useful for landline
phones which have a telecoil or venues that have a hearing loop system. Using this the hearing aid can collect sound directly from the source, removing barriers of distance and noise.
- Feedback management: Have you ever been next to someone with a squealing hearing aid? That’s called feedback and happens when the sound produced by the hearing aid escapes and feeds back into the hearing aid, generating a feedback loop. Hearing aid technology can detect and eliminate this issue.
- Noise reduction: Hearing aids can scan the environment and determine which
sounds are speech and which sounds are noise. They can then suppress or reduce the noise and increase the speech so that you can hear the desired signal better.
Your Hearing Aid Fitting Appointment
Your fitting appointment will take about an hour to ensure the hearing aids are appropriately fitted to your hearing loss.
- Your audiologist will look in your ears with an otoscope to make sure they are clear for the fitting. Next, they will place a small probe tube attached to a microphone in the ear canal.
- The audiologist will program your aids to your hearing loss by performing measurements of the hearing aids in the ear (real-ear measures) to ensure they are producing the required amplification.
- Sounds will be played through a speaker and measurements made with and without the aids to determine the amount of amplification. This allows your audiologist to fine-tune the hearing aids to your hearing loss.
- Your audiologist will then ask you questions and further fine-tune the aids. Following this, an aided speech test will be performed to determine the amount of benefit. You will be required to repeat words you hear back and the test will be conducted with and without hearing aids.
- Lastly, you will go through management and use. Your audiologist will tell you how to distinguish left and right aids, insert and remove the aids, turn them on and off, change and charge batteries, care for and clean your aids, adjust volume and programs, and show you how to use any accessories.
Following this, you will have a follow-up appointment in two weeks to ensure your aids are working well and adjustments can be made. Your hearing aids will be reviewed every twelve months, but you are welcome to come in sooner if needed.
In a Nutshell
As you can now see, hearing aid fittings are a comprehensive process that includes the testing of your hearing, determining your needs, discussing different hearing aid options and features available, and finally fitting your hearing aids. You must work together with your trusted Attune audiologist to ensure the best outcome is achieved.
It is important that you purchase hearing aids from an accredited, independent Audiology clinic such as Attune Hearing and have them fitted by an experienced audiologist. If you are interested in getting hearing aids or have further questions, do not hesitate to contact an Attune audiologist near you for an appointment and advice. To make a booking, give us a call at 1300 736 702.