Real Ear Measurement

The primary goal of hearing aid fitting is to provide and enhance audibility, improving the ability of sounds and speech more clearly. Real ear measurement (REM), also referred to as real ear verification, is considered to be the gold standard of hearing aid fitting, ensuring that the device is optimized based on the hearing requirements of the patient.

Purchasing the latest or most expensive hearing aid won’t guarantee the best hearing experience without proper hearing aid fitting and a real ear measurement.

What is real ear measurement?

REM is the process of verifying the sound pressure level in a patient’s ear canal when a hearing aid is worn. Referred to as the gold standard of hearing aid fitting and verification, real ear measurement can more accurately determine if a hearing aid user is receiving the correct level of amplification needed to achieve the best hearing improvement possible.

Used by audiologists and other hearing healthcare professionals, real ear verification greatly improves the accuracy of hearing aid fitting. 

Through REM, audiologists can make highly efficient and informed judgments on the audibility of sound in the ear and assess the overall effectiveness of hearing aid treatment.

Who Performs real ear measurement?

Unfortunately, not all audiologists or hearing aid dispensers conduct real ear measures. 

At Fort Bend Hearing, our team makes real ear verification a part of our standard hearing aid fitting protocol. We believe in best practices to give patients the best, world-class hearing healthcare they deserve.

What happens during real ear measurement?

During real-ear verification, a thin probe microphone will be inserted into the ear canal with a hearing aid. Prior to that, an audiologist will examine the ear canal using an otoscope to ensure that there is no earwax or other dirt and debris that will interfere with the positioning of the probe tube. 

The thin wire will then be positioned approximately 6mm from the tympanic membrane. After that, the hearing aid will be positioned in the ear as well.

The REM system will then produce a test stimulus from a loudspeaker positioned around 12-15 inches from the patient’s head and will simultaneously gauge the output in the ear canal to determine how much amplification the hearing aid is producing.

Based on the results, audiologists can accurately adjust the sound levels to match the target hearing requirements across all the speech frequencies.

If you want to make sure that you are maximizing the features and benefits your hearing aid can offer, working with an audiologist who practices real ear measurements is recommended.

How long does real ear measurement take?

Real ear measurement is a simple procedure that can be completed in five to twenty minutes. It’s a quick and painless procedure that can make a huge difference in your hearing aid performance.

Are audiologists required to perform real ear measurements?

Audiologists are not required to use REM for hearing aid fittings. In fact, in a recent survey conducted by the Hearing Review, only 34% of audiologists surveyed across the United States practice real ear measurement. 

In the 2021 AAA Virtual Conference, a certain study was revisited showing data that only about 30% of practicing audiologists perform real ear measurements during hearing aid fittings.

While it is not required, we consider it as going above and beyond. If you want to maximize hearing aid performance and enjoy a higher success rate in hearing improvement, it would be best for you to work with an audiologist who practices real ear measurements.

Importance of Real Ear Measurement

Having the correct audibility across a wide range of pitches plays a big role in one’s ability to hear sounds and speech clearly. Real ear measurements allow audiologists and hearing care practitioners to ensure that specific factors, like the shape and size of the ear canal, are taken into account. This results in good auditory access to speech with hearing aids.

Since hearing loss is unique for each person, the methodology and approach of treatment should also be unique and personalized. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for hearing loss and that also remains true for hearing aid fitting and programming. 

The gains and losses of a hearing device vary on a patient’s hearing loss, and real ear measurement plays a critical role in ensuring that a patient’s unique and specific hearing requirements are met.

Real Ear Measurement vs. Auto Hearing Aid Programming

Most, if not all hearing aids available on the market today, have the capability to be auto-programmed thanks to a feature known as First Fit.

What is First Fit?

Audiologists and other hearing healthcare practitioners use First Fit when they take the hearing loss data of a patient and enter it into the manufacturer’s software to get an estimate of how much amplification that patient should receive.

All hearing aid manufacturers have their own set of First Fit algorithms to give a certain amount of amplification they believe is best from their hearing aids. Sounds too good to be true, right? 

The problem with First Fit is that audiologists cannot actually verify a prescription proprietary to the manufacturing company because third-party tools and equipment can only verify certain validated prescriptive methods.

This is where the limitation of First Fit rears its ugly head. You see, even patients with similar hearing losses will need different amounts of amplification at different frequency ranges, determined by the ear canal shape and size. 

Just like fingerprints, no two ears are alike, no hearing loss is alike – and real ear measurement raises the bar in hearing aid fitting, being much more accurate than any existing First Fit on the market.

The Gold Standard

When a hearing aid is calibrated to prescriptive targets, patients will hear their best. Most hearing care professionals rely on the manufacturer’s First Fit method instead of practicing real ear measurements. 

With First Fit, the presets of amplification in the high frequencies are reduced to make the amplification more comfortable for the patient. This reduces the likelihood that a patient will return the hearing aids because they don’t like the way they sound. 

The question is – are they getting the most out of that hearing aid without real ear measurements?

If you want to ensure that you are getting the most out of your hearing aids matched to your prescription, it’s best to work with an audiologist who practices REM. Without real ear measurements, you won’t be able to confirm if your hearing aids are meeting your prescription or not.

Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

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Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Hearing Aids and Audiologists in Sugar Land, TX

Fort Bend Hearing believes that when you hear better, you live better. We have a team of dedicated and highly-qualified hearing healthcare professionals focused on providing effective hearing solutions for you and your family. 

We provide personalized hearing solutions for our patients, acknowledging that each hearing loss is unique. As part of our constant effort to provide personalized hearing solutions to our patients, we implement evidence-based practices in our clinic, including real ear measurement.

For more information about hearing aid fittings, real ear measurement, and other hearing healthcare services we offer, visit us at Fort Bend Hearing, Sugar Land TX.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!