Probe Microphone measurements and Hearing Aids

How do you prove a hearing aid is working correctly: Probe Microphone measurements and Hearing Aids

One thing that all audiologist and hearing aid specialist ask after fitting a hearing aid is “How does that sound”. The problem is that most first time hearing aid users do not know how a hearing aid is supposed to sound. Several years ago hearing scientist developed a method to measure how the hearing aid was working so that we could have an objective measurement of how the hearing aid was sounding. This test is called Real Ear Measurements. Instead of “how does that sound?” we can measure what the hearing aid is actually doing.

Real Ear has several sub-tests: Speech Mapping, Automatic Gain Control, American National Standard Institute protocol and others. For my offices in Las Vegas and Henderson we most frequently use Speech Mapping. Speech Mapping involves placing a microphone into the ear canal and then inserting a hearing aid. The equipment measures the response of the hearing aid and compares it to established targets based on the individuals hearing loss. It really takes the guess work out of the hearing aid fitting.

According to a report in Consumer Reports only 25 percent of hearing healthcare providers use Real Ear measurements. I would contend that the actual number is much lower than that. During my schooling I did rotations at several audiology clinics. Two of nine clinics used Real Ear measurements on a regular basis. I cannot say with certainty but to my knowledge Desert Valley Audiology is the only hearing aid clinic in the Las Vegas valley that performs Real Ear on every patient.

From my experience the results of Real Ear show that the factory setting of the hearing aid is correct about 70 percent of the time. The other 30 percent of the time I have to make changes to the hearing aid setting based on the results of Real Ear.

As part of the Veteran’s Administration hearing aid fitting protocol the audiologist is required to verify benefit. One of the most widely accepted methods of verification is Real Ear Measures.

When I visit with colleagues at conferences I constantly stress the importance of Real Ear measurements. If you do not verify the hearing aid setting your fitting is only as good as “how does that sound”. If your hearing aid clinic does not offer Real Ear testing ask them why. Then after they give you an excuse to why it is not needed ask them why Consumer Reports and the Veteran’s Administration both say it is needed.

Desert Valley Audiology does Real Ear testing on every single patient that we fit with hearing aids.