What Is Real Ear Measurement? Importance of Real Ear Measurements in Hearing Aid Fittings
When it comes to hearing aids, achieving optimal sound quality and comfort is crucial for individuals with hearing loss. Real Ear Measurement (REM) is a valuable procedure used by audiologists to fine-tune hearing aids and ensure they are providing the appropriate amplification to meet the unique needs of each individual.
This article will explore what real ear measurement is, how it works, and why it is essential for achieving optimal hearing aid performance.
The primary purpose of real ear measurement is to ensure that the hearing aids are delivering the appropriate amplification for an individual’s specific hearing loss and ear characteristics. It allows audiologists to fine-tune the settings of the hearing aids based on the unique acoustic properties of the individual’s ear canal. By measuring the actual sound levels in the ear canal, real ear measurement helps audiologists determine if the hearing aids are providing enough amplification or if adjustments are needed to optimize the performance.
What Happens During Real Ear Measurement
Real ear measurement (REM) involves a series of steps that audiologists follow to ensure accurate calibration of hearing aids. Let’s take a closer look at what happens during this crucial process.
- Preparation: The audiologist begins by preparing the patient for REM. This involves ensuring that the hearing aids are properly inserted, and any necessary adjustments, such as volume control or program selection, are made.
- Insertion of Probe Microphone: A thin probe microphone tube is carefully placed in the patient’s ear canal alongside the hearing aid. The probe microphone measures the sound levels in the ear canal, allowing the audiologist to assess the effectiveness of the hearing aid’s amplification.
- Test Signals: The audiologist uses specific test signals, such as pure tones or speech, to evaluate the hearing aid’s output and the patient’s response. These signals are transmitted through the hearing aid while the probe microphone simultaneously records the sound levels in the ear canal.
- Comparison and Analysis: By comparing the desired target levels for amplification with the actual measured levels in the ear canal, the audiologist can identify any discrepancies and fine-tune the hearing aid settings accordingly. This analysis ensures that the hearing aid is providing the appropriate amplification across different frequencies.
- Adjustments: Based on the measurements and analysis, the audiologist may make adjustments to various parameters of the hearing aid, such as gain, compression, or equalization settings. These adjustments are made to ensure that the hearing aid’s output matches the patient’s specific hearing needs.
- Verification: After the adjustments, the audiologist verifies the changes made by conducting additional measurements. This step ensures that the hearing aid now meets the target levels and provides the desired amplification.
- Patient Counseling: Once the REM process is complete, the audiologist discusses the results with the patient. They explain the changes made to the hearing aid settings and address any concerns or questions the patient may have. This counseling session plays a vital role in enhancing the patient’s understanding and satisfaction with their hearing aid.
Real ear measurement provides objective data that guides the audiologist in tailoring the hearing aid to the individual’s unique hearing profile. By following this comprehensive process, audiologists can achieve optimal hearing aid performance, leading to improved sound quality and better communication abilities for the wearer.
The Impact of Earwax on Hearing Aid Performance
What is earwax? Earwax, or cerumen, is a natural substance produced by the ear to protect the ear canal and assist in cleaning. However, excessive or impacted earwax can hinder the performance of hearing aids. It may block sound from reaching the microphone or speaker, causing distorted or muffled sound quality.
When conducting REM, an audiologist can identify the presence of excessive earwax and address the issue promptly. They may recommend appropriate earwax management techniques, such as regular cleaning or referral to an ear, nose, and throat specialist for safe removal. By ensuring proper ear canal hygiene, REM facilitates optimal hearing aid function.
Importance of Real Ear Measurements in Hearing Aid Fittings
Real ear measurements (REM) play a crucial role in the process of hearing aid fitting. Let’s explore the importance of REM and how it benefits individuals with hearing loss.
- Individualized Fitting: REM ensures that hearing aids are personalized to meet the unique needs of each individual. No two ears are exactly alike, and REM allows audiologists to fine-tune the hearing aid settings based on the patient’s specific hearing characteristics. This customized approach leads to improved comfort, better speech understanding, and overall satisfaction with the hearing aids.
- Accurate Amplification: REM helps verify that the hearing aids are amplifying sounds accurately. By measuring the sound levels in the patient’s ear canal, audiologists can assess whether the amplification matches the prescribed targets for different frequencies. This ensures that the hearing aids are providing appropriate amplification across the entire hearing spectrum, addressing specific areas of hearing loss effectively.
- Real-world Simulation: REM takes into account the impact of the individual’s ear anatomy on sound transmission. It considers factors such as the resonance characteristics of the ear canal and the placement of the hearing aid. By measuring the sound levels directly in the ear canal, REM provides a realistic simulation of how the hearing aid will perform in real-world listening situations. This allows for precise adjustments to optimize the hearing aid’s performance and ensure better sound quality in various environments.
- Validation of Prescribed Settings: REM serves as a validation tool to confirm that the hearing aid’s settings match the intended prescription. It helps audiologists identify any discrepancies between the prescribed targets and the actual amplification delivered by the hearing aid. This validation step is crucial in ensuring that the hearing aid is appropriately programmed to address the individual’s hearing needs, avoiding under-amplification or over-amplification issues.
- Enhanced User Experience: By incorporating REM into the fitting process, audiologists can significantly improve the overall user experience for individuals with hearing loss. REM allows for more accurate adjustments, leading to better sound quality, reduced listening effort, and improved speech understanding. This, in turn, enhances the wearer’s ability to communicate effectively and participate fully in various social and professional settings.
Real ear measurements are indispensable in hearing aid fittings. While hearing aids have advanced significantly over the years, their effectiveness is highly dependent on accurate and individualized fitting. Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro say:
REM allows us to fine-tune the amplification settings based on the unique characteristics of each patient’s ear and hearing loss. This personalized approach enhances comfort, speech understanding, and overall satisfaction with the hearing aids. By incorporating REM into the fitting process, we can validate and adjust the prescribed settings, resulting in improved sound quality and better communication abilities for individuals with hearing loss.
In conclusion, experts in the audiology field recognize the importance of REM in achieving optimal hearing outcomes for their patients. By staying abreast of the latest advancements and incorporating REM into their practice, they can deliver high-quality care and improve the lives of individuals with hearing loss. If you are considering hearing aids, consult with an audiologist, who understands the value of real ear measurement and strives to provide personalized solutions.