Q: I have an appointment tomorrow to be fit with my new hearing aids, and my audiologist mentioned I would be going through a “real ear measurement,” could you please explain what that means to help me prepare for the appointment?
A: I would love to explain to you what to expect at your hearing aid fitting. When you are fit with the hearing aids, your audiologist will make sure your hearing aids are performing properly by running a test called Real Ear Measurement, REM for short. This valuable tool assists the audiologist in making a precise and personalized fit based on the acoustic measurements from your ears.
REM is a short test, taking just five to 15 minutes, and measures the correct amount of sound presented to your tympanic membrane, otherwise known as the eardrum. The hearing aids are fit to the ears and programmed via the computer. Then a small probe device is inserted in the ear canal to measure the sound close to the eardrum to ensure the appropriate gain is applied at each frequency.
The REM allows better fine-tuning. In other words, the goal is for the hearing aids to amplify sounds at each frequency to provide as close to normal hearing as possible. Even though the hearing aids are programmed according to the manufacturer’s fitting software, you may feel for some reason your hearing aids don’t sound right to you. We take into account the fact that each person’s ear canal has a different shape, diameter, and length, so the output of sound is not always what is expected.
As an example, let’s say there is a sharp bend in the ear canal; it may dampen the sound before it reaches the eardrum as compared to another individual who has a straight canal. The benefit of the REM is that it will allow us to see the exact gain curve and answer how much true gain is reaching the eardrum at each frequency, allowing the audiologist to better tune. This will certainly help with comments such as, “The hearing aid just doesn’t sound right to me.”
REM has been around for several years, but not all audiologists have the opportunity to provide this valuable tool. It’s an added service to increase patient satisfaction and make it a pleasurable experience for the patient. The American Academy of Audiology and audiology community have made REM a best practice and a gold standard of care.
If any of your family or friends feel like they can just pick up hearing aids at a garage sale, online, or even from Amazon, ask them if they are going to have the Real Ear Measurement performed to ensure they are fit correctly. Always be cautious; think of being fit with hearing aids as a true medical treatment, and make sure best practices are used.
Northwest Ohio Hearing Clinic is very fortunate to provide this service to our patients, and we have heard many positive comments. As always, please feel free to contact us with questions and concerns.❦