Customizing a Hearing Aid


(Probe Microphone Test)


Hearing aids are expensive, in part because customizing a hearing aid is labor intensive.  (I wrote a blog post earlier on affordable options.)  Unlike a non-medical, high tech device like a “smart” phone.  You buy a phone, thank the salesperson, and out you go.   It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes and the salesperson doesn’t need a college degree to know how to do it.  It’s also not like getting glasses.  They make the glasses based on your prescription and you’re out the door.  It doesn’t take more than an hour and, again, it doesn’t take a college degree to understand how to do it.  With hearing aids, the initial fitting and follow up visits for fine tuning throughout the life of the hearing aid take hours.  I also takes a graduate degree to do it well.


The standard of care for fitting hearing aids includes two tests: probe microphone test and a speech discrimination test.  I just learned from a hearing aid manufacturing rep that only about 10% of audiologists do the first one.  Without it, you have no idea how close the hearing aid is to the patient’s prescription.  A clinic in Minnesota made an excellent video explaining probe mic measurement.  Physical fit is also custom, but that’s for another blog post.