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When fitting a hearing aid, an audiologist takes many factors into account. The audiogram, the output and acoustics of the aid, and the shape of the ear canal must all be considered. Many audiologists use estimations and experience to establish the required gain. We then use the patient’s feedback to determine whether the aids are doing what we expect. However, there is a better way- Real-Ear Measures. But, what are Real-Ear Measures, and how do they help the audiologist help you to hear better?

Real-Ear Measures are considered the gold standard for hearing aid fitting. They allow the audiologist to verify what the hearing aid is actually doing in that individual’s ear. Real-Ear Measures are sometimes referred to as Insertion Gain, Hearing aid Verification, or Speech Mapping. These are different terms that sometimes refer to different techniques, but ultimately all refer to the real measurement of the hearing aid in the ear.

To perform Real-Ear Measures, your audiologist would first place a small tube into the ear canal, almost right up to the ear drum. A sound would be played into the room, and the natural resonance of your ear canal measured. We would then insert the hearing aid, and measure without amplification. This helps us to tell what the shape of the hearing aid is doing to the acoustics of the canal. Finally, we would put the hearing aid on and measure the actual output of the aid in your ear.

As we measure, the audiologist would fine tune the hearing aids to ensure that the amplification is as close to the target gain for your hearing. Fine tuning the aid to target is an art, which is why experience and skill are still very much required! Of course, we will still always take the patient’s experience of the sound into account, and fine tuning is sometimes still needed.

Real-Ear Measures take the guess work out of fitting a hearing aid. If your hearing aids are verified, you know that they are working at the required level for your hearing loss in your actual ear. Real-Ear Measures are recommended for all new hearing aid fittings, and should also be done whenever existing hearing aids are adjusted. This might be because the hearing, and therefore the prescription, has changed, or if the acoustics are altered, which happens when you change to a different dome or mould.

To learn more, check out this video by Dr Cliff Olsen, where he discusses the importance of Real-Ear Measures.

If you’d like to know more, or have your hearing aids verified using Real-Ear Measures, contact us or comment below.