The most common complaint I hear as an audiologist is, “I can hear, but I can’t understand.” Speech is unclear. Hearing loss prevents people from hearing all of the speech sounds; therefore they are only hearing part of words. Often, if they are face to face with the person they are speaking with, they read lips and fill in the blanks. While the impaired ear may not hear the difference between “fin” and “thin,” watching the speaker’s mouth allows you to see the difference.
When we program hearing aids at the initial fitting, we use a method to visually see our voice being amplified by the hearing aid while it is in the patient’s ear. This allows us to dial the hearing aid response in and make all of the speech sounds audible. We can also do this using the voice of a spouse, family member, or friend. It is important to customize each hearing aid for the individual wearing it. There is no “average” person. Every person and each ear is unique.
The time spent personalizing the hearing aid to the patient is critical to the patient’s success wearing hearing aids. It is very important to listen to each person’s comments about how they are hearing in different listening situations. We want to improve clarity and sp eech understanding in as many listening situations as possible.