This is a question that many patients ask. Speech testing in a soundproof room does not give enough information as to how we hear. If the audiologist uses best practices, real ear measurements or speech mapping will be used. These measurements are the standard tools used to assess and assure that soft voices are heard, that average speech is comfortable and that loud speech and loud sounds are not uncomfortable. Based on the hearing test and ear anatomy we all have specific needs. These measurements are the best way to address individual differences.
Great question!! If your audiologist or hearing aid dealer is using best practices, they should be taking measurements of how the aids work in your ear via. probe microphone/real ear measures/speech mapping. This allows us to evaluate the output of each hearing aid, individually, in your own ear and determine if it is providing optimal amplification for speech reception based on prescriptive targets. Sound field speech testing can be beneficial in select cases when comparing aided vs. unaided conditions, however, it is less effective at diagnosing ear specific variance. Speech mapping allowed me to realize one of my patients needed a longer receiver size on one ear vs. the other just last week to acheive optimal insertion depth to capture propper amplification of select frequencies in that individual ear due to the unique curvature and ear canal volume. These things cannot be ascertained with out taking real ear measures which should be part of the fitting process with any qualified audiologist.
I hope that is helpful!
If you are working with a competent audiologist, they will. Not only should they be evaluating your speech comprehension with/without hearing aids (and different sets if necessary), but in quiet and background noise as well. The diagnosis and medical treatment of hearing loss requires testing in a manner where outcomes can be measured objectively; and calibrated sound field testing is one of the most effective ways of accomplishing that. When used properly, there will be no question that you are properly treating your hearing loss. In short, if they are NOT approaching your treatment in this way, find another audiologist.
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