By: Dr. Todd Decker
Currently 1 out of 8 Americans (13 percent/30 million) age 12+ has hearing loss in both ears. However, only 20% of Americans with hearing loss will be fit with hearing aids and the majority of them will wait 7-10 years to get hearing aids. Several articles before this one have discussed the ramifications of living with untreated hearing loss which are mainly a higher incidence rate of dementia, higher risk of falling, depression, isolation, shrinkage of the brain, etc. This article will focus on those individuals that are fit with hearing aids and what is considered the Gold Standard in a fitting: Real Ear Verification.
Every person’s ear canal is uniquely shaped which can have a significant effect on the volume and benefit of a hearing aid. 60% of hearing aid fittings today are performed with a hearing professional adjusting the hearing aid via software but not measuring the actual volume of the hearing aid in the patient’s ear. This can lead to poor hearing benefit for the patient when they have made an investment to improve their life. 40% of hearing professionals utilize the Gold standard of hearing aid fittings. Real Ear Verification is a remarkable technology that allows the hearing professional to place a small tube close to the patient’s ear drum and measure the exact sound of the hearing aid (loudness and pitch) at the ear drum. A speaker is placed a foot away from the patient and produces speech sentences. The patient’s hearing aid then amplifies these sentences and places the sound into their ear canal. The different twists and turns of the ear canal can either make sounds of speech (s,t,p,th,a,u,etc.) louder or softer. The microphone tube by the ear drum measures exactly what is happening in the ear with the sentences. The hearing professional can then match the volume of the hearing aid to the patient’s hearing loss prescription which provides superior accuracy and benefit for the patient.
Think of a dart board when throwing for the bullseye. If the bullseye is the patient’s prescription for hearing aid volume.… using Real Ear Verification is like walking up to the dart board and sticking the dart in the bullseye without even throwing it. Both the patient and the hearing professional know the patient is getting the best quality of hearing aid fitting. Ask for the best!