It’s critical that your hearing aid adequately fits your ears perfectly and matches your level of hearing damage. This is why no two hearing aids are alike because everyone has different needs. How your hearing aid is programmed varies with your degree of hearing loss, comfort level and other considerations. You can’t simply purchase a set of hearing aids off the rack without having them programmed. A hearing aid won’t do you any good without programming by a certified audiologist, in a similar way to glasses without the lenses.
Once you have your hearing aid programmed, you can have it adjusted again in the future. It’s not a one-time thing. Several people return with suggestions on how the device could work better. They may have complaints about what the device can’t do for them, too. This is so the brain can have time to adjust to the new sounds emitted by the device. This can only be determined over time within various listening situations. Most hearing aids manufactured today are digital, and easy to program with software. In contrast, older devices could be adjusted with a simple screwdriver. There weren’t too many adjustments available — you got what you got. Today, hundreds of elements can be fine tuned within digital hearing aids to match the hearing needs of someone with hearing loss. Programming can occur during and after a thorough hearing evaluation with the user on his or her subjective preferences. The audiologist can then fine tune the device based on those suggestions.
What Factors can be Adjusted?
The level of adjustment varies with the device model you have. For instance, if one setting is too sensitive when it comes to noise, it can be tweaked to accommodate the user’s level of comfort. Many can be adjusted to filter out background noise as well.
Many elements are involved when programming a hearing aid. An audiologist can adjust the following and more: volume, frequency, intensity levels, compression ratios, max power output, noise reduction, and microphone parameters.
Programming Hearing Aids
Real-ear probe microphones help detect how much sound is getting to the eardrum so the doctor can accurately program the device. Visible speech mapping (VSM) informs the doctor how various sounds of speech hit the eardrum and process sound. A hearing aid can be customized to the individual user via real ear measurements, visual mapping and environmental simulations. This is an ideal alternative to traditional measurements, as today’s hearing aids can now help with noise reduction and feedback reduction algorithms. Several doctors use a surround sound system to simulate real noise from the outside world and make adjustments depending on real-time feedback. This surround sound system approach can simulate crowd noises and help the doctor adjust noise reduction factors. This is a big help, because so many people with hearing aids say they work great when all is quiet but as soon as they hit a crowd, they have to compete with all the background noise. Many people can program their own hearing aids; however, the equipment is expensive and the level of accuracy is not as high as when you have a qualified audiologist do this every time. The proper hardware, software and cables to connect to the hearing aid are all needed to begin process of programming a hearing aid.