So, what happens when the hearing aids arrive? First of all, if any part of what you’re getting is custom, I’ll look at how it fits in the ear and ask you how it feels. Usually there’s no problem with this part. The manufacturers I use make devices that fit well. Then we’ll hook your hearing aids up to the computer and customize them for your particular hearing loss.
One critical part of this process is a measurement called Real Ear. In this measurement, I slide a tiny plastic tube past your hearing aid while the aid is in your ear. One end of the tube is a little ways past the end of the hearing aid. The other end is attached to a microphone. The microphone picks up sounds that the hearing aid makes in your ear canal. These sounds are represented visually on the computer screen and they tell me how your hearing aid is behaving. I make adjustments using this display until I’m satisfied with the results.
Most of the time people are pleased with these adjustments but other times there are sounds in their environment they find annoying that should not normally be annoying. I may or may not adjust these at the first visit, depending on the severity of the complaint. If a sound is only slightly annoying, I ask the client to live with it for a week because the adjustment I make to reduce that sound may also take speech information away. One of the most important things to understand about wearing hearing aids is that everything sounds different. EVERYTHING SOUNDS DIFFERENT. So a sound that is “new” may be interpreted as slightly annoying when actually it is just different.
In Part 4 I’ll talk a little about hearing aid technology and how an automatic function of your brain plays a big role in hearing well in a noisy place.