Hearing Aid Department

Hearing Aid Department (What to expect)

Hearing Aid Selection and Fitting

Hearing aid selection and fitting is extraordinarily important. Your hearing aid must be exactly customized for you. If it doesn’t fit well, it will definitely not feel good, you won’t wear it, and you won’t be getting a good value for the money that you spent.

STEP #1 - Selection

The first step in a hearing aid selection is picking the hearing aid that is the best match for both your audiogram and your budget. An experienced audiologist will provide invaluable input for you during the selection process. He or she will ask you many questions about your lifestyle which will help them determine what hearing aid features will be important to you

STEP # 2 – Ear Molds

Some Behind The Ear (BTE) hearing aids use what are called “open fit” molds. If you have a moderate loss, or a loss that is mostly in the high frequencies, you may be able to use an Open Fit mold, and skip the custom ear mold process all together. Feedback may occur when Open Fit molds are worn with other types of hearing losses. Ask your audiologist if an Open Fit mold is a good option for you

Hearing aids fit with Open Fit molds are more lightweight and less visually noticeable than standard BTE hearing aids. Because there is no ear mold needed, there is no occlusion of the bowl of the ear or the ear canal. Since the mold is lighter and the ear canal is not sealed off, many wearers find open fit molds more comfortable than traditional molds.

If you decide to go the custom ear mold route, or if you have chosen an In The Ear (ITE), In The Canal (ITC), or Completely in Canal (CIC) hearing aid the audiologist must take a “cast” of your canal from which the mold or hearing aid case will be made. This process starts by the audiologist placing miniature cotton balls attached to string in your ears. Then they will fill your ears with a cold goopy substance, which takes about 2-3 minutes to take the shape of your ear. After the ear mold hardens and is in the unique shape of your ear, the audiologist pulls it out using the string attached to the cotton ball which is now firmly embedded in the cast.

Now you and your audiologist must decide what kind of ear mold you want. There are many different kinds including different kinds that can help reduce earwax production. For children, there are many colors, and even sparkles and swirls that can be embedded in ear molds. Depending on the manufacturer, ear molds can take anywhere from three days to two weeks to come back so you will need a return appointment for a final fitting. During the follow-up appointment, your audiologist will make any final adjustments to your ear mold or case to make sure it is comfortable for you.

STEP # 3 – Hearing Aid Tubing

Ears come in all shapes and sizes, so it is obvious that one size DOESN’T fit all. If you have chosen a BTE hearing aid, the tubing which connects the ear mold to the body of the hearing aid has to appropriately sized to fit your ear as well. Now, for most of the world this part is relatively easy. However, for a small percentage of the world has microtia (small ears), macrotia (large ears), or cryptotia (oddly shaped ears) that makes the tubing harder to fit perfectly to the ear.

STEP # 4 – Programming the Hearing Aids

After the tubing has been fit, the frequency selection must be made. Your audiologist will hook you up by your new hearing aids to a computer while you are wearing them. The audiologist will initially set your hearing aids to the default settings recommended for your audiogram. Then he or she can fine tune the programs for your hearing aids to the loudness setting that you want them at. You can make decisions such as ‘too loud, too soft, too squeaky, too tinny etc.’ and even set the feedback programs so your hearing aids won’t squeal as much when coming into close contact with other objects.

Programming your hearing aids takes time. Your audiologist will tweak the loudness levels back and forth until you find a place that you are comfortable in. They will often ask you to listen carefully to the sound of their voice as the pitches in your hearing aids change as they adjust them. If you listen carefully enough you will notice the differences and eventually find all the frequencies that you prefer. Sometimes this takes several appointments.

CONCLUSION

It is important to understand that choosing the right pair of hearing aids needs to be a highly collaborative process between you and an experienced audiologist with extensive experience dispensing hearing aids. California Ear Institute has these audiologists who stay up on the latest technology and can help you choose the hearing aids that will help you maximize your hearing experience. Contact us to take advantage of our 30 day hearing aid trial.

Once you have your hearing aids, it will be necessary from time to time to return to have them checked. If you have BTE aids, tubing may crack and need to be replaced. Hard shell aids or molds may also crack and require repair. If your hearing loss continues to progress, you will need to have a repeat audiogram, and your hearing aid programs will need to be adjusted.

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