How are hearing aids programmed?

Ever wonder what goes into the programming of a pair of hearing aids? There’s actually quite a bit that goes into it, certainly more than simply making things louder and calling it a day. 

After the right set of hearing aids is selected by the patient and our doctors of audiology through careful discussion, the devices are wirelessly connected to our computers and the hearing aids’ programming software. The results of the patient’s recent hearing test are used to calculate through special formulas to determine the right amount of amplification at each frequency. Adjustments are then made from there to incorporate the right amounts of amplification, noise reduction, and speech enhancement that will help the patient hear better in the situations that matter most to them.

At that point, the hearing aids are then inserted into the patient’s ears along with a very small microphone that allows us to measure the frequency response of the hearing aids in the patient's ear canals. This process, called real-ear verification or real-ear speech mapping, ensures that the sound reaching the patient's eardrums is an exact match to their hearing profile. (Believe it or not, every person’s unique ear canal can affect the frequency response of a hearing aid or even an earbud for music or podcasts.) If needed, additional adjustments are made for the patient’s subjective preferences.

As Dr. Goyne often says, “I can go into my files and pretty quickly find 10 hearing tests that look exactly the same, but all ten of those patients will have a unique programming that is customized for them.”

Written by Dr. Tom Goyne