The Importance of Programming Hearing Aids and Real Ear Measurements (REM)

The Importance of Programming Hearing Aids and Real Ear Measurements (REM)

Everyone has a different hearing journey, and nobody’s experience with hearing aids will ever be the same as somebody else's. But what should be the same is how you get your hearing aids fitted and programmed. 

Getting your hearing aids properly programmed is vital for the success of your hearing. 

Real Ear Measurements, or REM, is the only way to ensure that your hearing aid is doing what it should to meet your prescription. REM is testing that every dispensing audiologist should perform. Why? It's the only evidence-based practice around fitting hearing aids.  

Unfortunately, not every dispensing audiologist offers it. As studies have shown, only 30% of dispensing audiologists use Real Ear Measurements. That does not take into account the Hearing Aid Dispensers (HADs) that do not perform this vital test.

Today we're going to show you why it's important to have your hearing aid programmed. We will show you what Real Ear Measurements are and why they're important for the success of your individual hearing journey. 

Why it’s important to program your hearing aids

Did you know that no two hearing aids are programmed the same? 

That's right; your hearing aid is entirely unique to your hearing loss and your lifestyle. With the help of your audiologist, your hearing aid will be programmed to meet your preferences so you can have a smooth and comfortable experience with your hearing aids. 

To ensure your hearing aids are set correctly, your audiologist will calibrate your hearing aid to reduce undesirable noise and enhance the sounds you want. 

Unwanted noise includes:

  • Traffic
  • Crowds
  • Background noise
  • Annoying gardeners with leaf blowers :-)

Your audiologist will also be able to adjust your hearing aid's functions like:

  • The volume of your hearing aids
  • Sound intensity levels
  • Maximum power output
  • Sound compression ratios

Getting your audiologist to calibrate these features means you'll be able to experience your favorite activities a lot easier. They can also adjust it so you have different programs depending on what you're doing. 

So whether you're enjoying the outdoors or watching tv, these programs will minimize extra sound so you can enjoy what you love without disruptions. 

What happens if REM is not performed on your hearing aids?

If you do not have your hearing aids programmed using REM verification, they might not work correctly for you and your needs. 

With unprogrammed hearing aids, you might not be able to hear the way you should with your hearing aids. Background noise might get picked up more than they should, and you might be unable to understand speech as well as you should.

Without proper hearing aid programming, you could be making your hearing more difficult than it has to be. 

Always make sure your hearing aids are programmed by speaking to your audiologist as soon as you can. 

What are Real Ear Measurements (REM)?  

Real Ear Measurements or hearing aid verification is considered best practice by professional associations such as the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA). 

The Importance of Programming Hearing Aids and Real Ear Measurements (REM) | The Hearing Solution

REM is a critical tool that helps verify if a hearing aid amplifies all the frequencies correctly for your hearing prescription. It's key to ensuring that when you use your hearing aid, you get the results you need to improve your hearing capabilities.

What is the REM process?

The REM process involves placing a probe tube microphone and the hearing aid into your ear canal. From here, your audiologist will measure the amplification of your hearing aid across a wide range of frequencies or pitches. 

The REM process takes about ten minutes from start to finish, but it can take a bit longer, depending on how many adjustments you require. 

This testing should always be considered a requirement when getting any hearing aid fitted. It's best practice and will provide the best possible results.

Here are the five steps involved in the REM process:

Step 1: Your audiologist will calibrate the machine used for the measurement process before you enter. Then your audiologist will perform an otoscopy so they can have a peek inside your ears.  

Step 2: Next, your audiologist will place a probe microphone in your ear, about a quarter of an inch from your eardrum. This will allow them to take an accurate measurement. 

Step 3: Your audiologist will put your hearing aids in so you have both the probe and your new hearing aid in simultaneously. This allows them to measure how well your hearing aids work for you at their current programming. 

Step 4: Now, all you have to do is listen while your audiologist makes some adjustments. They'll use the machine to confirm the amplification in your hearing or adjust your hearing aid. Often, you will hear a story all about carrots in the garden!

Step 5: Finally, you provide feedback. The machine is beneficial for getting a reading, but if the sounds for you are too loud or uncomfortable, then now is the time to let your audiologist know so they can make any adjustments. Audiologists use your feedback to provide the best satisfaction. 

Every patient is unique and requires programming to be personalized to their hearing needs.

Note: A good provider will also perform objective verification by using Real Ear Measurements and subjective validation. Subjective validation is important as it allows your audiologist to learn how you feel about the sound quality and loudness of your hearing aids.

Why are Real Ear Measurements (REM) important?

If you're getting a new hearing aid fitted, and Real Ear Measurements aren't conducted, then your provider is assuming the hearing aid will meet your hearing loss prescription needs. 

But this is rarely the case, as REM should always be performed when any hearing aid is fitted to ensure it's working correctly. 99% of the time adjustments are needed to customize the programming to your individual ear.

The Importance of Programming Hearing Aids and Real Ear Measurements (REM) | The Hearing Solution

Real Ear Measurements ensure your hearing aid properly stimulates your auditory nerve. If your hearing aid isn't properly stimulating the auditory nerve by being appropriately matched to all the different frequencies of your hearing loss, the auditory nerve can weaken. So not only are you not using your hearing aid to the fullest, but you're also at risk of damaging your hearing further. 

This is why ensuring your hearing aid is fitted and programmed correctly with Real Ear Measurements testing is essential. 

Find a provider that uses Real Ear Measurement testing 

We know this is a lot of information to consider, but it's essential for you to research and find a provider who uses Real Ear Measurement testing with every fitting. By finding somebody who follows the best practices, is sensitive to your feedback, and listens to your hearing needs, you can rest assured that you're in good hands. 

If you have hearing aids not programmed with Real Ear Measurements, please call us to schedule an appointment with an audiologist. 

At The Hearing Solution, our audiologists always use Real Ear Measurements at every hearing aid fitting and routinely at your 6 month follow ups to ensure you and all of our clients have the best start to their hearing journey.

Book a consultation today by calling 916 646 2471 or by clicking here and booking online.

Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.

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