Hearing Aid Dispensing and Fitting
Once you have selected your hearing aids after an evaluation you have an appointment to have a First Fitting. At your First Fitting, your audiologist will program the hearing aids, based on a prescription, to meet your hearing needs. The audiologist will run a test called Real Ear Analysis, which consists of placing a soft probe microphone into the ear canal, while the patient is wearing the hearing aid. The audiologist will then play either speech or speech stimuli through a speaker and the probe will record the sound that is coming out of the hearing aid. This test is used to verify that the hearing aids are properly programmed for the patient's hearing loss. Once the hearing aids are programmed and the patient is comfortable with the sound, the audiologist will explain how to use the devices, how to put them in the ear and how to remove them, how to change batteries and how to care for and clean the devices. It is often helpful to the patient to bring along a spouse, family member or friend to this appointment, so they can help remember all the information discussed and to provide support to the patient.
When you put the hearing aids in for the first time, you may have different emotions about the sounds you hear. This is normal and to be expected. The goal of the hearing aid is to make everyday sounds audible and comfortable, but the sound you hear should be clear and pleasant. Small changes can be made to the hearing aids at your First Fitting if there are things that you feel should be adjusted right away. Most patients will report that their own voice sounds funny or different to them when they first begin wearing hearing aids, this is very normal. There also may be sounds you will hear that you have forgotten you used to hear.
Attitude is one important key to success with hearing aids. Hearing aid studies have shown that people who have a positive attitude do better with hearing aids. If you, as well as your spouse or family, approach your hearing aid fitting with a positive outlook you will have a much better listening experience more quickly. Keep in mind that it may take some time to get used to the sounds you were missing, and by working closely with your audiologist, you will get the most out of your new hearing aids. Remember, your hearing loss didn't happen over night, it developed over a long period of time, so over time the brain got used to not hearing things as clearly as it used to. Be patient and give your brain time to get used to those sounds again.
After your First Fitting, your audiologist will have you go out into the the real world, so you can experience all the sounds and conversation you experience day to day. You will wear your hearing aids for about a week, before you return to the office for a Real World Adjustment appointment to make sure the hearing aids are performing well in your day to day environments. The audiologist is able to make many adjustments to the hearing aid sound and features, so it is important to let them know how things are working for you.