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Real Ear Measurements Explained by Dr. Jana Emola-Austin of Allison Audiology & Hearing Aid Center

A simple and easy way to determine if your hearing device is programmed correctly for your hearing loss is to run real ear measurements. 

What are Real Ear Measurements?

Simply stated, a small probe is placed in your ear canal along with your hearing aid.  The probe is placed to a measured depth and sound or output coming from your hearing device is then measured and recorded.  Using your hearing test as a reference, these measurements tell us if you are receiving adequate amplification at each of the frequencies in your hearing device, based on your audiogram.

Do Real Ear Measures Matter?

Absolutely!  Real ear measurements are the gold standard for verifying a hearing device is programmed correctly for a patient.  Countless times our office has seen patients come in with hearing aids they purchased elsewhere and they report they aren’t hearing as well as they would like to be.  When our hearing providers run real ear measurements, we see they are under amplified!  Imagine if someone were to tell you that you’re about to make an investment in your hearing, but they are going to guess at how to adequately program it for you.  That’s exactly what is happening if you’re being fit with hearing devices and aren’t having these objective test measures performed.

When you are first fit with a hearing device, the initial programming uses responses from your hearing test to make calculations, but this is only a starting point.  The initial recommended or suggested output from the hearing aid is calculated based on your response from the hearing test and a ‘standard’ ear canal size used in research and development by the hearing aid manufacturer.  I don’t know about you, but if I’m making an investment in my hearing, I want to know that my hearing device programming is based not only on results of my hearing test, but also my own ear – not a simulated ear from research. 

What if a patient’s ear canal is larger than the simulated ear used by manufacturers?  Then we’ll need additional sound energy to reach the ear drum compared to the simulated ear.  But how much more?  1 decibel?  4 decibels?  This is where the guessing game begins.  With real ear measurements, we can measure the output of the hearing device and be able to tell at each frequency if we are in our target range, or if additional sound energy is needed and how much.  It makes programing your hearing devices an exact science just for you.

What if you have hearing devices and they’ve always seemed unnatural to you or too loud?  Were real ear measurements obtained?  It could be your ear canal is smaller than average and you have too much sound energy for that small space coming from the hearing device.  This is a prime example of how real ear measurements can benefit you!  You may find the output measurements show you’re over amplified at certain frequencies due to your ear canal size.  The easy remedy is to adjust those certain frequencies. 

As you can see, real ear measurements literally show you how much sound energy is in your ear canal, which determines how your devices perform and sound to you.

How is Real Ear Used at Allison Audiology?

Real Ear Measurements are part of the programing protocol at both our Houston and Lake Jackson locations.  With each initial fitting, real ear measurements are obtained and shown to the patient so that you can ‘see’ exactly how you are hearing.  This is also goes for any reprogramming or adjustments to hearing devices.  Say your hearing changes through the years and your hearing devices need to be adjusted for your new hearing levels.  New real ear measurements will then be obtained to ensure we are hitting the new targets for your recent change in hearing.

Real ear measurements are critical to a successful hearing device fitting or reprogramming.  With new glasses, we know immediately if our vision has improved.  Your eyesight is either clearer or remains blurry.  With hearing loss, it’s more subjective.  Are people really mumbling?  Should you be hearing the t.v. at a lower volume?  With real ear measurements, we can verify your hearing devices are programmed for your hearing loss and preferences.  In turn, you also have peace of mind knowing your hearing devices are programed exactly as they should be.

If you currently have hearing devices and are questioning their performance, contact either Allison Audiology location and have real ear measurements performed today.