Users can’t simply purchase a set of hearing aids off the rack. Why? They must be programmed because they won’t show any benefits to you otherwise. A certified audiologist should do this. This is vital because your hearing aid needs to fit your ears perfectly and match your existing hearing capabilities. This is why no two hearing aids are alike because everyone has different needs. How your hearing aid is programmed takes into account your specific degree of hearing loss, comfort level and other considerations.

Programming Hearing Aids

Many people with hearing aids say they work great when all is quiet but as soon as they hit a crowd, they have to compete with all the background noise. This is why simulations needs to be done with the correct hardware, software and cables. Many people can program their own hearing aids; however, the equipment is expensive and the level of accuracy is lower than if you were to have a qualified audiologist do it. A hearing aid can be customized to the individual user via real ear measurements, visual mapping and environmental simulations. Real-ear probe microphones help detect how much sound is getting to the eardrum so the doctor can accurately program the device as best as possible. Visible speech mapping (VSM) informs the doctor how various sounds of speech hit the eardrum and process sound. This is an ideal alternative to traditional measurements, as today’s hearing aids can now help with noise reduction and feedback reduction algorithms. Several doctors use a surround sound system to simulate real noise from the outside world and make adjustments depending on real-time feedback. This surround sound system approach can simulate crowd noises and help the doctor adjust noise reduction factors.

Processing Time

Many users return with suggestions on how the device could work better after programming, which is the goal of the task. Perhaps they have complaints about what the device can’t do for them, too. Why? It takes time for the brain to adjust to the new sounds emitted by the device. This can only be determined over time within various real-time listening environments. This trouble shooting approach is what’s so awesome about digital hearing aids. Most hearing aids manufactured today are digital, and fairly easy to program with software. In contrast, older devices could be adjusted with a simple screwdriver. There weren’t too many adjustments available — you got what you got. Today, hundreds of elements can be fine tuned within digital hearing aids to match the hearing needs of someone with hearing loss. Programming can occur during and after a thorough hearing evaluation with the user on his or her subjective preferences. In addition, once a hearing aid is programmed, it can be adjusted again later on.

What Factors can be Adjusted?

You may be surprised as to what goes into programming a hearing aid. An audiologist can adjust elements such as volume, frequency, intensity levels, compression ratios, max power output, noise reduction, and microphone parameters. This all depends on the model you have. For instance, if one setting is too sensitive when it comes to noise, it can be tweaked to accommodate the user’s level of comfort.