Hearing loss remains a significant affliction in the nation, affecting approximately 30 million people in the United States. However, as technology develops gradually, more solutions have appeared to help those suffering from hearing loss.
As doctors, scientists, and hearing professionals research and study those with hearing loss, the technology in the field is advancing rapidly. In the past, hearing evaluations and fittings for hearing aids mainly consisted of a series of beeps and noises. Now, hearing care professionals are equipped with new technologies and methods to make the hearing evaluation process and hearing aid programming process more effective.
The most crucial step in the hearing aid buying and fitting process is real-ear measurements. Real-ear measurements provide scientific and objective verification and ensure that appropriate amounts of amplification are prescribed for your specific hearing loss.
Without Real-Ear Measurements, successful outcomes cannot be guaranteed and pose a risk of over/under amplifying sounds.
Utilizing Real-Ear Measurements has been shown to:
- Focus on the essential and primary function of being able to hear human speech effectively.
- Engage both you and your family in the fitting process.
- Provide immediate and tangible results.
- Increase successful outcomes of fittings.
- Increase your confidence and comfort in using your new hearing aids.
- Provide more accurate programming of hearing aids.
- Reduce the number of return visits.
Less than 30% of hearing care providers use Real-Ear Measurements. However, at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas, we use it 100% of the time.
Why? Real-Ear Measurements allows your hearing care professional to verify that hearing aids amplify sound correctly for a specific patient’s hearing loss.
It takes the “guesswork” out of the prescription process. When using Real-Ear Measurements, the results are superior.
WHY USE REAL-EAR MEASUREMENTS?
If you needed glasses, it wouldn’t make sense to grab a pair off the rack until you found something that made your eyesight less blurry. You would likely schedule an appointment with an optometrist who would have you take an eye exam so they can match your glasses to your vision.
A prescription is the amount of amplification a person with hearing loss would require at an individual frequency to make sure sounds are comfortable and audible.
HOW DOES THIS PROCESS WORK?
A small microphone called a “probe tube” is inserted into your ear. In front of you, a speaker generates a known calibrated signal. The probe tube will pick up the sound amplified inside your ear.
It will then send that information to the hearing aid software. Next, your hearing care professional determines how well the amplification is meeting your prescription.
Your hearing care provider will make the necessary adjustments and then repeat the sound and amplification process to measure it again until the results are optimal for maximum speech intelligibility.
While Real-Ear Measurements help take the guesswork out of the hearing aid fitting process, the results aren’t always perfect since everyone’s perception of sound is different.
Real-Ear Measurements measure how much sound is occurring in your ear canal, not your perception of the sound. The latter can be influenced by life experiences, previous hearing aid use, and how long the person has had an untreated hearing loss.
Individual perception of matching the volume to the “optimized” target will be different for someone new to hearing aids than someone who is a long-time user. It’s often the case for new users to not want the volume at 100% of the target volume since they need time to get used to hearing better, whereas a long-term user is already used to it.
Getting used to hearing aids as a new user is akin to rehabilitating an injury through physical therapy. We start with an amount of sound the person can tolerate–usually 70-90% of the target volume–and gradually increase it over time when they are ready for more amplification.
WHAT IS LIVE SPEECH MAPPING?
One of the advanced technologies available is live speech mapping, a method of fitting hearing aids using speech as an indicator to help the specialist adjust hearing aids to the proper settings for each wearer. Live speech mapping makes fitting appointments more interactive, and it can also reduce the number of office visits required for successful hearing aid programming.
Live speech mapping is a Real Ear Measurement verification method used to ensure that your hearing aids are programmed for your specific needs. With this method, small microphones are placed in the ear canal and used to measure the hearing aid response in your ear. This also takes into account the natural and individual characteristics of both your ear and your hearing loss.
If you schedule a live speech mapping appointment, it’s essential to bring a family member or close friend to gauge your ability to hear live voices.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING LIVE SPEECH MAPPING?
When you arrive for a live speech mapping appointment, your hearing care professional will have specialized equipment allowing them to see what you hear through your hearing aids on a screen in real-time.
Live speech mapping is known to be highly accurate. If you choose not to use speech mapping verification, other methods to program your hearing aid may require additional adjustments. Live speech mapping dramatically increases the chances that your hearing aid programming will be done correctly on the first try, limiting your visits to your hearing care provider and saving you time.
Live speech mapping also creates a much more positive fitting experience for you and your loved ones–because all of you get to see the immediate results of your hearing aids and their positive impact. Both you and your family will be engaged in the fitting process, making it a group effort.
A common problem with hearing loss is the inability to understand what you can and cannot hear fully. Because of this, you may not understand everything you’re missing. With speech mapping, you can listen to the improvements made immediately, and you will be shown exactly what you can and cannot hear in real-time.
Some other benefits of live speech mapping include focusing on the critical function of hearing human speech effectively – this is usually seen as the essential function of a hearing aid. Another benefit is that you and your family are involved in the fitting process, lessening family concerns that tend to be brought up by your loved ones.
Also, live speech mapping provides immediate and tangible results for the patient. It isn’t easy for a patient to tell whether their hearing aid is adjusted correctly. Because these patients suffer from hearing loss, they struggle to know whether their hearing has improved enough, especially when put on the spot.
Rather than relying only on what they can hear themselves, live speech mapping patients can see visual representations of what they’re hearing. They can also see how adjusting the hearing aid affects their ability to hear. The process makes it much easier for a patient to confirm whether or not their hearing care provider adjusted their hearing device effectively.
WHY LIVE SPEECH MAPPING IS SUPERIOR
Knowing whether a hearing aid is working properly is one thing that haunts almost every user. As with traditional fitting and evaluation methods, you must revisit live speech mapping from time to time to ensure your device suits your changing needs.
Since live speech mapping is so much easier and effective than other methods, you’ll no longer dread coming in for adjustments. These visits might even be an improvement since they will further enhance your ability to hear.
This process also increases the chances of a successful fitting and improves patients’ confidence and comfort.
Without question, live speech mapping has changed the way hearing care professionals assist patients with hearing aids and instruments. It provides benefits to both patients and medical professionals alike.
Furthermore, because hearing care professionals encourage family members to participate in the process, live speech mapping makes it easier for everyone to understand how hearing loss affects their daily lives.
Whether you suspect that you are suffering from hearing loss or have been using hearing aids for some time, be sure to ask your hearing care professional about live speech mapping and insist on it the next time you need a new hearing aid. If you or a loved one believe you may be experiencing hearing loss or tinnitus, consider consulting Hearing Associates of Las Vegas.
As trained professionals, we can assist you or your loved ones and help you get on the road towards better hearing. With the newest technology and the best products available on the market, our associates will help you make the right decision towards improved hearing.