November 30, 2023

3 Ways Real Ear Measurement Improves Your Hearing Aid Experience

REM is a method that adjusts the hearing aid to the unique shape and acoustics of your ear, making sure it works just right for you.

When you start looking for a hearing aid, it's easy to get caught up in the exciting features: How small is it? What can the processor do? Does it have good battery life? These features are important and can make your life easier and more enjoyable. But there's something else just as important that often gets overlooked: how the hearing aid is fitted to your ear.

Think of it like getting a custom suit versus one off the rack. Real Ear Measurement (REM) is like that tailor who measures you precisely for the perfect fit. REM is a method that adjusts the hearing aid to the unique shape and acoustics of your ear, making sure it works just right for you. Surprisingly, despite how crucial this is for clear hearing and comfort, only about 39% of hearing professionals use this method.

At Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte, we're committed to providing best practice care, including the use of REM in our hearing aid fittings. We're so dedicated that we're part of Dr. Cliff's HearingUp network, a group of Audiologists committed to best practice hearing care, including Real Ear Measurements for our patients. We believe in this technology so much that we recently invested in portable REM equipment so we can include them in our on-site hearing aid fittings. 

In this article, we'll dive deeper into the importance of REM and how it can significantly improve your hearing aid experience.

What is Real Ear Measurement (REM)?

REM is an evidence-based practice used by audiologists to verify the performance of hearing aids in your ears. Considering everyone's ears are as unique as fingerprints, REM is essential in making sure your hearing aids amplify sounds correctly to match your specific hearing loss prescription. It's a personalized approach that ensures the hearing aid you're fitted with is tailored to your individual hearing needs.

The REM Process: Step by Step

The REM process, although straightforward, is crucial to ensuring your hearing aids are programmed correctly. Here's a simplified version of what happens during a REM session at our clinic in Charlotte, NC:

  1. Initial Testing: Our audiologist begins by performing an otoscopy to examine your ears, ensuring there's no obstruction like earwax that could alter the acoustics of your ear.
  2. Probe Placement: A soft and flexible probe microphone is placed in your ear canal, close to the eardrum. This allows our audiologist to measure the natural acoustics of your ear canal.
  3. Hearing Aid Insertion: Your hearing aids are inserted alongside the probe microphone. The audiologist then measures the output of the hearing aid while you listen to a speech passage.
  4. Comparison and Adjustments: The readings are compared to targets based on various factors, including your hearing loss, age, gender, cognitive health, noise tolerance and hearing aid experience. The audiologist makes small changes to ensure your hearing aids meet the targets for soft, medium, and loud sounds.
  5. Patient Feedback: Finally, you're asked for feedback. The machine readings are a crucial part of the process, but your comfort and experience are just as important. If sounds are too loud or uncomfortable, further adjustments are made.

Why REM is Essential For a Better Hearing Aid Experience

REM is crucial to ensuring your hearing aids are performing optimally for your particular hearing loss needs. Without it, you risk using hearing aids that aren't properly calibrated to your unique hearing needs, making your hearing experience less than ideal.

Here are some ways REM can improve your hearing aid experience:

1. Personalized Hearing Aid Programming

REM allows for personalized hearing aid programming, ensuring your device is tailored to your unique hearing needs. Since every person's ear canal has a different shape and size, the way sound resonates within it can vary greatly. REM takes these individual characteristics into account, ensuring the hearing aid is calibrated precisely for the wearer’s specific auditory profile, leading to better sound quality and speech clarity.

2. Measured Success

With REM, we don’t just guess whether REM is performing well - we measure it! We check the amplification of the hearing aid closely matches your hearing loss results. This precision is crucial for setting the hearing aid to amplify sounds to the right level - neither too soft nor excessively loud - for optimal hearing. This accuracy is especially important for understanding speech in various environments.

3. Increased Hearing Aid Usage and Satisfaction

Lastly, REM has been shown to increase satisfaction with hearing aids. When your hearing aids are programmed correctly and performing optimally, you're more likely to have a positive experience and continue using them. Users are more likely to wear their hearing aids consistently if they are comfortable and provide clear benefits in their daily lives. REM-adjusted hearing aids can reduce the common complaints of discomfort or unnatural sound that often accompany one-size-fits-all fittings.

Get Your Hearing Aids Fitted the Right Way

Real Ear Measurement is a critical part of the hearing aid fitting process that should not be overlooked. It's a process we at Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte adhere to religiously, ensuring all our patients receive personalized and effective hearing aid programming.

If you're considering hearing aids or if you have hearing aids that haven't been programmed with REM, schedule an appointment with us. You can reach us by calling 704-412-7975 or clicking here to book online. Together, we can navigate your journey to better hearing.

Written by
Reviewed by
Dr. Melissa Karp, Au.D.
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Melissa Karp is a board-certified audiologist with special expertise in tinnitus treatment, auditory processing disorder (APD) evaluation, hearing aid fitting and aural rehabilitation.