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Hearing systems: What's important for you to know?

10-step catalogue on the quality of hearing aid fitting

Today's hearing aids are known as hearing systems to do justice to the enormous efficiency of these miniature computers, on the one hand, and point up their options for coupling and connectivity with modern communication devices, on the other. However, even the most sophisticated technology may be of little avail if it is not accurately adjusted to a person's individual hearing problem and requirements. A hearing care professional brings to bear a number of medical, technical, and psychological skills and qualifications so as to gain real quality of life from these high-tech devices. And those concerned must be prepared to develop an interest in technology issues. The ten steps listed below will show you what is important.

  1. Please be aware that quality hearing aid fitting always depends on a fair and mutually beneficial co-operation between ear, nose and throat specialist and hearing aid acoustician. Both professions are based on qualified, specialist professional training lasting for several years.
  2. The ear, nose and throat specialist diagnoses the type, degree and place of hearing impairment, and advises on therapeutic options. If hearing systems are required, the ENT specialist will write a prescription for hearing aid fitting. This entitles you to consult a hearing aid acoustician of your choice.
  3. Your hearing aid acoustician will conduct an anamnesis of the hearing impairment, aimed at finding out which hearing situations are particularly important for you and what your needs are. S/he will determine the characteristics of your hearing faculty and will carry out a pure-tone and speech audiogram.
  4. From among the great number of different hearing systems on the market today, your hearing aid acoustician will preselect those hearing systems that are suitable for you. The hearing systems are then adjusted according to your audiometric data so as to put you in a position to compare the sound and performance of the hearing systems (comparative fitting). The acoustician will explain the auditory and cosmetic benefits of behind-the-ear and in-the-ear devices as well as the technological specifics and options connected with different systems. In any case, your hearing aid acoustician will offer you types of hearing aid fittings the costs of which are covered by your health insurance company. These fittings include speech intelligibility in different listening situations, noise reduction and feedback suppression as well as manual volume control. If you wish to benefit from additional features such as hearing comfort, design, connectivity, your hearing aid acoustician will advise you on options for other types of fitting.
  5. The hearing aid acoustician makes an ear impression from your ear canal to manufacture the earmoulds or shells for in-the-ear devices. The quality of sound transmission and wearing comfort hinges on the perfect fit and manufacturing of the earmould.
  6. Comparative fitting is a way for you to test different hearing devices. Only when the hearing systems are in place is it possible to accurately check and fine-tune them as the individual bend, width, length, and tissue condition of the auditory canal considerably influence transmission properties. When comparing different hearing systems, your subjective impression is what counts.
  7. Your hearing aid acoustician will take a lot of time and care so as to gradually fit the hearing systems to your individual auditory habits during the acclimatisation phase. In order to make it easier for you to cope with the new auditory impressions, this process is particularly important if there has been a long deprivation phase. In some cases, hearing training may be useful as this is an individually tailored training schedule to bring your hearing in line with your auditory sensation.
  8. Your hearing aid acoustician will give you detailed instructions on the management, operation, and care of the hearing systems.
  9. After hearing aid fitting, you should have your improved speech intelligibility checked by an ENT specialist.
  10. During an average six-year wearing life of your hearing systems, you are entitled to comprehensive aftercare given by your hearing aid acoustician. This includes services such as earmould cleaning, battery and tube changes, reworking and renewal of earmoulds as well as readjusting of the hearing systems. If required, your acoustician will offer hearing tactics and hearing training. Most of the services are included in the original price paid for the hearing systems. Your hearing aid acoustician will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have concerning auditory issues and good hearing (hearing protection, technical accessories, informative literature, tinnitus counselling, etc.).

You should not do without any of these items listed. Only when all of them are fulfilled, will best possible fitting be guaranteed.