The Importance of Well-Tuned Hearing Aids

In News, Weekly Stories by Linda Bilodeau

During a recent conversation, a friend asked if my hearing aids helped me to hear. I explained the pros and cons of my aids and indicated that my aids did improve my hearing, even in challenging noisy environments. It’s a tribute to my audiologist, I said. He has adjusted my aids perfectly, keeping me in good hearing health.

My friend told me that his sister had recently purchased hearing aids and she was complaining of not having a good result. Multiple visits to her audiologist had not corrected the problem.

The conversation brought to mind that tuning is everything when it comes to hearing aids. This is particularly true with custom-built aids. Hearing aids are complex instruments and have many components. Some have multiple channels giving the wearer the ability to hear in various environments. It is necessary to adjust each channel to the needs of the wearer.

Properly tuned aids are vitally important for hearing health. Before adjusting your aids, your audiologist should take into account: your audiogram, word recognition scores, and social and work habits. Do you spend time in noisy environments? Do you attend meetings? Do you talk frequently on the telephone? Do you often converse with more than one person? What are your needs with the television, computers, laptops, and pads?

Understanding your social and work life and your expectations will help your audiologist properly adjust the settings on your aids. Keep in mind that it is impossible to have new aids perfectly tuned after the first audiological visit. Most hearing aid wearers require multiple adjustments. On average, it takes three to six months before the best results are seen. I purchased new aids in January of 2020. It has taken all this time to get my aids and peripheral devices to the point where they are at optimum performance for me.

When purchasing hearing aids, it is important to choose an audiologist who offers a package that includes repairs, tuning, annual tests, and visits when needed. When I purchased my aids, my audiologist included six tuning visits, and annual hearing exams. I always have the option to call my audiologist when problems arise. He is willing to adjust or repair my aids as needed.

My audiologist always explains the impact of his adjustments on my hearing. He reminds me that it will take several weeks before I am comfortable with new settings. There is wisdom in these words. After the first two adjustments on my new aids, it was unnerving to come home and hear my appliances and other household noises that I had not heard before. I wanted to return to my audiologist’s office and ask him to turn down the volume. I did not. I knew it was important for my brain to adjust to these sounds so I waited.

I am now used to my hearing aids. I handle phone calls with ease, and I enjoy the connectivity I have with my iPad and phone. Since I have a profound hearing loss, I cannot hear everything, but I feel my hearing has improved.

If your hearing aids are failing you, be sure to let your audiologist know. Hearing well reduces stress and opens opportunities for you to socialize. As you meander through the hearing world, you want to make your life as easy as possible. Well-tuned aids will help you achieve that goal.