Real-Ear Measurements: What Is It, and How Does It Affect Hearing Aid Success?
Audibility improvement, or the ability to hear sounds and speech more clearly, is the goal of hearing aid fittings. So why do so many hearing aids that are dispensed end up in a drawer?
Whether or not real-ear measurements were included as part of the initial fitting is usually the reason hearing aids are worn or not. What are real-ear measurements? Real-ear measurements, sometimes called probe microphone measurements, is the gold standard used to determine whether or not a hearing aid user is receiving the precise level of amplification needed at every frequency in order to achieve the best hearing improvement possible. Depending on the level of hearing loss, 100% improvement is not always possible, but the goal is to maximize the benefit to get as close to 100% as possible.
During real-ear measurements, a thin probe microphone is inserted into the ear canal alongside the hearing aid. The audiologist obtains readings of the exact sound levels the user is receiving from the hearing aid while listening to various recorded speech samples. The audiologist can then precisely adjust the sound levels to match target amplification levels based on the hearing aid user’s hearing loss across the speech frequencies.
Performing this verification during the initial fitting process helps ensure that the user is receiving a “just right” level of amplification- not too much where everything is too loud, and not too little where the user has significant trouble hearing speech even with the hearing aids on.
A recent survey performed by the Hearing Review indicated that only 34% of audiologists surveyed across the United States perform real-ear measurements. Hearing aid fittings using real-ear measurements resulted in superior outcomes and improved aided benefit both in quiet and in noise. We’re proud of the fact that at The Center for Audiology, we provide the best in evidenced-based care to bring you crystal-clear hearing results from hearing aids that work!