While more than 28 million people in the U.S. have some form of hearing loss, many individuals opt to remain untreated for their impairment, which can cause significant health effects. If you’re experiencing signs of impaired hearing, learning about how to get fitted for a proper hearing aid can jumpstart the process of drastically improving your hearing capabilities and overall quality of life.
How to Know When It’s Time for Hearing Aids
Those suffering from hearing loss can oftentimes detect early signs of impairment during their everyday routine. Whether you’re taking preventative measures or already suspecting hearing loss, it’s advised to be aware of the following signs of hearing impairment:
- Difficulty hearing conversations
- Commonly hearing muffled sounds or speech
- Trouble hearing while on the phone
- Frequently turning up the volume on the TV
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed here, contact Associate Hearing Professionals to get help from our audiologists.
How to Prepare for Your Hearing Aid Fitting
Before you go to your appointment for your hearing aid fitting, it’s best to prepare so that you know what to expect. Proper preparation can assist you in communicating with your audiologist all of your questions and concerns.
The next time you strain to understand conversations or hear a ringing in your ears, start with an internet search to determine possible sources of impairment. Researching signs of hearing impairment can provide you with a general understanding of common conditions that cause or result from hearing loss.
Write down any questions you have
Any questions regarding your hearing impairment should be addressed with your audiologist during your appointment. To ensure that you remember to raise all of your concerns, it’s recommended that you write down every question you may have before your appointment.
Learn what happens in a hearing aid fitting
A hearing aid fitting is the process of testing and adjusting hearing aids so that they are optimized for your ears and lifestyle. Learning what to expect from your hearing aid fitting can help prepare you for an assessment of your hearing needs.
Meet with your audiologist
Once you have conducted research and pinpointed any concerns you have regarding your hearing capabilities, it’s advised to schedule a hearing test to assess your level of hearing loss. Based on your hearing test results, your audiologist will make recommendations on what your next steps should be.
What to Expect at a Hearing Aid Fitting
The length of your appointment can vary depending on the sophistication of the hearing aid. However, general hearing aid fitting appointments run for about one to two hours.
During your session, the audiologist will program the hearing aids specifically for your hearing loss and your lifestyle. Verification that the hearing aids are appropriate for your hearing loss may be performed as well. They will also ensure proper physical fit of the hearing aid in your ear. Finally, the audiologist may assist you with Bluetooth pairing to your compatible smartphone or other devices (iPad and/or Apple watch).
Once your hearing aids have been fitted, your audiologist will begin the programming process to match your hearing aids to your hearing loss levels and sound preferences. Typically, this step involves using special software to ensure the hearing aids are programmed correctly.
After the initial fitting, you’ll have the opportunity to try your hearing aids on and test their functionality. During this time, you’ll be able to determine whether the devices are working as expected. It is expected that patients will experience an adjustment period to their new hearing devices. It is also expected that fine-tuning adjustments will be needed at follow-up visits to improve sound quality for specific situations.
As your appointment draws to a close, you’ll be given detailed instructions on how to use, care for, and maintain your new devices so that they will continue to work properly.
Once you receive your devices and usage instructions, we recommend that you contact your audiologist with any questions you may have. Hearing loss can be a frustrating experience, but your audiologist can address any questions or concerns.
Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids vary in size, price, special features, and how they’re placed in your ear. To learn more about the various types of hearing aids, reference the ones below.
Completely discreet in appearance, invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids are the smallest in size and are custom-designed to fit entirely inside of your ear. These hearing aids rest in the second bend of the ear canal as opposed to behind the ear, which helps with efficiently using the telephone and properly localizing the direction of sound from in front and behind. IIC hearing aids best treat mild to moderate hearing loss.
Virtually undetectable, completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids are custom-fit to sit inside of the ear, ensuring comfortability. As these hearing aids sit completely within the ear canal, CIC hearing aids are almost invisible to an outsider’s eye. Recommended for mild to moderate hearing loss, CIC hearing aids provide users with a natural sound experience due to their inner ear placement.
Custom-molded to fit partly in the ear canal, in-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids improve mild to moderate hearing loss. These hearing aids are less visible in the ear than some of the larger custom styles and include features for volume and memory that don’t fit on CIC hearing aids.
Custom-made in two styles, in-the-ear hearing aids (ITE) offer support to those with mild to severe hearing loss. These hearing aids can either fit most of the bowl-shaped area of the outer ear (full shell) or fit only the lower part of the outer ear (half shell).
Resembling a behind-the-ear hearing aid, receiver-in-canal (RIC) styles place the speaker or receiver in the ear canal with a small wire connecting to a piece behind the ear. Generally, these hearing aids feature a less visible behind-the-ear piece and offer larger batteries to sustain battery life. RIC hearing aids are most commonly recommended for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
As an open-fit hearing aid, mini behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are discreet and custom-molded to fit entirely behind the ear. These hearing aids feature a nearly invisible tube connecting the aid to the ear canal. Crafted to reduce feedback and increase comfort, mini BTE hearing aids are suitable for all hearing loss types.
Recommended for all levels of hearing loss, behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids are the largest type of hearing aid, though newer designs are beginning to feature more discreet styles. BTE hearing aids sit behind the ear, with a tube connecting to a custom earpiece that rests in the ear canal. As the world’s most common hearing aid type, BTE hearing aids are appropriate for all ages.
Hearing Aid FAQs
Can you fit your own hearing aid?
Though it may be possible to receive hearing aids over the counter and fit them yourself, it’s not recommended. If you suspect hearing loss or are experiencing impairment, it’s best to consult with a hearing professional and set up an appointment to determine any underlying causes and the extent of your hearing loss.
Hearing aids are fit based on the results of your hearing test (the audiogram) and are programmed for specific loss at specific frequencies. When programmed inappropriately, a hearing aid or amplification device can do more harm than good.
Who fits a hearing aid?
Hearing aids are not one-size-fits-all, which is why it’s essential to be evaluated by an audiologist to determine the best solution based on your hearing needs. Trained in diagnosing and treating hearing problems, the experienced audiologists at Associated Hearing Professionals can handle each stage of the hearing aid fitting process.
Contact Associated Hearing Professionals
If you’re struggling to understand family members’ or coworkers’ remarks, contact Associated Hearing Professionals today to determine if hearing aids are right for you. Our team has over 70 years combined experience proudly serving Metro St. Louis. Schedule your hearing aid fitting appointment today.