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#18 - What You Can Expect During a Hearing Aid Fitting

Learn about the art and science behind the fitting process, and how hearing aid fittings can be very emotional for patients and family members.

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Transcript:

What can you expect during a hearing aid fitting. That's today's topic on Ask The Hearing Doctors.

Hi, I'm Jim Cuddy, and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And today I'm joined by Dr. Ana Anzola, Dr. Wendy Thorne, doctors of audiology with Hearing Doctors, the Washington DC area's highest rated audiology practice with over 1,500 five-star reviews. Ana and Wendy, great to see you both as always, of course. So hearing aid fittings, how emotional is that for patients? 

It is very emotional. I think, as this is when we really showcase the patients that with this beautiful piece of equipment and technology for the first time in their life, they're actually able to hear what they had been missing for years. Um, and you know, it's not just about the patients, but it's about the family members and everybody gets emotional. I get emotional. I cry. I don't know about you, but this of course, you know, one of our favorite parts of somebody's hearing journey, part of it. Yeah. I love when someone's coming in for their fitting, just to see the difference it can take from a second of, you know, the hearing aids are turned off and we turn them on and just seeing their facial expressions of when this changes, it's such a great experience. I love it. 

Now, obviously, you know, this isn't going into a box store and buying some, some, some hearing aids off the shelf. This is serious because it's, it's a proper fit. It's proper evaluation, comfort, all that kind of thing. How does that process work? How does, how, were comfort and fit evaluated? 

Well, I think it all starts in needs to go back to the evaluation. You know, once you have a proper diagnosis, then we can make proper recommendations. And then from there we can then help you select the best product. And there are many products out there in the marketplace, um, but that's really where it starts. And it's an investment. It's not only a monetary investment, but it is that emotional investment having the very best that you don't one should deserve to have, because you only have two ears, you only have one organ of hearing that it helps you connect and communicate with everybody in the world. And that's what people really want.

So you're really investing into the professional fitting, which starts with us and our expertise. Yeah. And you know, when we fit, it's a, it's really an art. So everyone's going to be fit somewhat the same, but the general outcome is going to be very different. So this person may want to hear their grandchild. That's like the most important thing, whereas this person wants to hear the TV better. So everything is very individualized too, on what they're looking for. And our main focus is always bringing back that interaction, that communication with the world around us. 

Well, yeah. And then there's also the question of what type is best for an individual. Is it outside of the ear, over the ears? Is it inside ear? Obviously there are a lot of different options nowadays. 

Absolutely. And so we have internal custom devices, um, and that's really where we showcase our expertise and making them, um, you're not gonna find that, uh, at a, you know, big box where, um, the over the ear design is it rechargeable? We look at [inaudible]. Uh, so we look at many of the things, the anatomy of the ear. Um, so we have a few of them that we can talk about a little. 

Great. Great. Now what happens if the hearing aid doesn't quite fit well, we will work tirelessly until we find the proper solution. Yeah. And you know, a lot of times that what we start with may not work for someone and we always reevaluate and there's a lot of flexibility that we can make adjustments to make things perfect. That's all we care about is making things perfect for the, we're not going to give up on you. That's the bottom line. 

Well, I know that, I know that now and now we're talking also not physically, as well as the programming side of it. I mean, all of that comes into, into play here. 

Yeah. All of that comes into play as well as like the vision, the dexterity of the patient. Um, we want something to be simple for you that you can easily handle. 

So how do you know what my hearing aid prescriptions need to be? 

Yeah. So it all starts with the hearing test, but that's just the basis. It is the science, the art, our expertise. We have fit, I've fitted thousands of pages. I know you have thousands of patients and every single one of them is very different. So just because you have a human test that allows us to know exactly what you may be missing a certain frequencies... Well, you have a sound processing that may be different in the example that you may like things a little louder. You may like things a little softer and we can really fine tune it and we follow best practices and we use Real Ear machines, or it's a machine that allows us to validate that prescription. 

You often talk about how important it is to have family members involved. Why is that important here? 

Yeah. So family members are familiar voice, so that's always, you know, a great tool that we can use. We have different ways that we can actually measure them talking and actually program the hearing aids to their voice. I've done that a lot of times with maybe, you know, someone can't hear their granddaughter, so their granddaughter comes in, we have her talk or read something. We can create a granddaughter program. Um, so it's very fine tuned to your specific needs. 

So I'm not going to find this at any box store. That's for sure. 

It's, it's a, it's a personalized approach that we take with our patients. You know, um, you cannot bring me your granddaughter, you know, for obvious reasons during COVID and things like that, but you can bring me an audio clip and then we can then fine tune it specifically so that you can then better enjoy them.

And it's, it's, it's, it's so much more than, Oh my hearing's and eight out of 10, I just need these hearing aids. It's, it's, it's a heck of a lot more than that, right? Yeah. 

Is, this what you can handle. What's easy for you to have people that may have tremors. So, you know, handling something, you know, in the ear maybe too difficult. So we go with something a little bit easier for you to handle or maybe changing batteries. It's very difficult for our patients sometimes. Yeah. The, either the batteries are very teeny tiny, so there's rechargeable options. So that's something, one last thing that the patient has to worry about. Um, we also have semi implantable devices that you wear 24/7. So that's great for someone who just does not want to, or can't deal with daily cleanings or putting them in, taking them out. 

And these are things that you help people with anyway. And I mean, in follow-ups and things like that, right? Yeah. 

And the follow-up, the aftercare is actually the most critical. So, you know, the, the, the, the special time for us is allowing somebody to, um, hear for the first time they way they should be, but what really makes it, um, the best journey for you and the investment really is on, again, our expertise and the follow-up care that we have. Exactly. 

How long does it take to program my new hearing aids and how often do I need to have those adjusted, those settings? 

Yeah. So the initial appointment we plan for about an hour, um, a lot of that is more of counseling you. You know, what you can expect, what you should keep notes of, and then just going over basic care and management. Yeah. But again is the aftercare. So we create a very personalized approach because some people may only need a few visits throughout the year. Other people may need to come in every month. It really is up to you and what you need, it's all about you. 

Technology is something else that you guys are clearly on top of. Will my hearing aids work with my smartphone. 

Oh, for sure. How smart do you want it to be?

How smart can you make it?

Oh, very smart.

So tell me more about that. 

Yeah. So there are a lot of hearing aids that are compatible with iPhone, um, with Android phones, there's Galaxy, um, and Pixel and above. Those are compatible with hearing aids - it's direct and indirect. Yeah. There are other ways of connecting if it's older generation, but then you would need something more external. Yeah. And as far as connecting, what may mean is that the hearing aids are going to, you know, any sort of sound, whether it's a phone call and music from your phone can stream directly into your devices. So it becomes a hands-free device. You can also use your phone to make adjustments to the hearing aids so you can change the settings. You can change the volume. One of the really nice things is if you lose your hearing aids, you can use your phones or track them. 

Oh, that's brilliant. All right. So as doctors of audiology, how do you instruct me? Let's say, I need to make adjustments or, or, you know, that kind of thing to my hearing aids. Do I need to come in every time to get that done or...

No, we can easily have a telehealth appointment. Um, but not all hearing aids, um, that are purchased outside, for example, like the big boxes that they're not going to have this ability for you to have that connectivity with you, but no. So you and I can sit in front of a computer and you take your phone and I can just, um, you know, uh, recommend certain things that would enhance your performance with them. 

So you can make adjustments on my behalf while I'm in another room and another place. 

Yes. You can be in another country and we can reprogram your hearing aids. 

And, and I just may do that. And I'm certainly not going to be able to do that at a box store. No, not at all. Ana, Wendy, as always great information. Thanks so much for your time. Thank you. If you're in the Washington DC metropolitan area and you'd like to schedule an appointment with Hearing Doctors, click the link in the description or visit HearingDoctors.com.


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