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Hearing aid programming, explained

Last update on Jul, 05, 2022

Every day, we find ourselves in a variety of sound environments as wel go about our routines and regular activities. For people without hearing loss, their hearing adjusts naturally to quickly adapt to the unique sound dynamics of each setting. With hearing loss, however, those adaptations become more difficult. By programming your hearing aids to meet your lifestyle needs, you can move between various listening environments more confidently and be sure you're not missing out on anything.

Think of a typical day in your life. You wake up and get ready for the day. You meet with a friend at a cafe to chat over coffee. You stop by the grocery store to do your weekly shopping. You drive around town to tackle some errands. You cook dinner for your family as they talk about their days. You watch some TV to wind down your evening. 

While everyone's daily routine looks a little bit different, you're probably experiencing more unique listening environments in a day than you might think. In a loud coffee shop, a busy supermarket or even during noisy dinnertime conversations, your hearing must quickly adapt in order for you to navigate and participate in your world. With hearing loss, though, adapting quickly to those new settings becomes more difficult.  

New and noisy environments aren't avoidable, but that doesn't mean that you have to avoid them because of worries about being able to hear. By programming your hearing aids to match your lifesyle, you can listen more comfortably in any situation - and stay engaged in your life. 

What is hearing aid programming?

To understand hearing aid programming, it's important to know how hearing aids work. Each type of hearing aid has its own function and style, but at its core, the device's jobis to enhance sound to compensate for hearing loss. Technology like directional microphones pick up on conversations in noisy settings, while amplifies boost sounds from the digital signal processor and receivers send improved prescriptive sounds into the ear canal. 

Of course, today's hearing aids are more than just basic amplifiers, which are an entirely different product. Hearing aids contain intricate and complex digital features that process sound in a way that allows you to listen more naturally and comfortably. Hearing aid programming enables that comfortable listening, no matter where you might be.

Think of your hearing aids like the dial on your car radio: If you’re looking for a certain radio station, you may eventually land on the right one by pressing the scan button, but it will mean that you could spend several minutes randomly shuffling through stations before you find what you’re looking for. On the other hand, with the help of presets, you can easily find your favorite stations without hassle.

Hearing aid programs offer something similar to preset buttons. Instead of using the volume function of your hearing aids to try to adjust to whatever new sound environment you might be in, you can switch between different listening settings designed specifically for your unique hearing loss and accounting for factors like wind, car noise and more. In short, with programming, the sound you’re hearing isn’t just amplified; it’s specialized.

Depending on the type of hearing aid you have, there are different numbers of programmable channels, and the programs can be accessed in several ways:

  • Manual button: As you enter a new setting, you can press a small button on the hearing aids to shift between different programs. 
  • Automatic: Your hearing aids can assess the sounds of your specific environment and shift automatically into a setting that fits the situation. This is a very popular option for those who don't want to make any adjustments with their hearing aids and let the hearing aids do the work. 
  • App: Miracle-Ear's smartphone app allows you to control the settings of your hearing aids from the palm of your hand. 
woman with hearing aid using Miracle-Ear app

No matter which method you use to switch between different programs, programmable hearing aids are capable of connecting you to your environment.

How are hearing aids programmed?

While all hearing aids are programmed as soon as you choose your device, no two hearing aids are programmed exactly the same, given the unique characteristics of each person's hearing loss and lifestyle. With the help of your hearing care professional, programming your hearing aids to meet these preferences is an easy process. Let's explore the steps that you can expect as your devices are programmed. 

Testing your hearing

To begin the process of programming, your hearing care professional will rely on several computer and algorithm-based tests to align your devices to your hearing loss needs. 

The first step is to have a Miracle-Ear Hearing Care Professional perform a thorough evaluation to determine whether you have hearing loss, and if so, whether you would benefit from hearing aids. The evaluation involves a combination of listening tests to see how well you can hear a range of different sounds and understand everyday speech. The test results help create a hearing "prescription" that the hearing aids will be programmed to, customizing the sounds of your world to your specific hearing needs. 

These tests can be a useful place for your Hearing Care Professional to develop a basic understanding of your hearing, but these are by no means the only metrics available to test your  hearing. Depending on the severity of your hearing loss and specific lifestyle considerations, more specialized testing may be recommended. 

Setting your hearing aids

To find the right settings, your hearing care professional will calibrate your devices in a way that minimizes undesirable noise and enhances wanted sounds. Those unwanted noises, such as traffic, crowds, and everyday background sounds, are adjusted so that they don't overpower the sounds you want to hear, like voices, music or notifications. 

Your hearing care professional can also adjust specific functions like the volume of your hearing aids, sound intensity levels, maximum power output, sound compression ratios and more. Calibrating these features means that experiencing your favorite activities is that much easier. No matter whether you're a music love, enjoy the outdoors, like watching your favorite show or want to travel, there are programs that can minimize extra sounds to help you savor those activities without disruptions. 

man with his hearing care professional

Together, you and your hearing care professional can find a comfortable balance with each function to program your hearing aids to allow you to hear the world more clearly. 

Adjusting to hearing aids

While hearing aids are a great option to manage your hearing loss, that doesn't mean adjusting to them will be instantaneous. It's completely normal for you - and your brain, where sound is processed - to experience a bit of a learning curve as your hearing adapts to life with hearing aids. As you reintegrate into a world of fuller sound, the most important thing to keep in mind is patience. Keep in mind that you can rely on your Miracle-Ear Professional to help you through this process; they are there to support you and set you up for success. 

Even as your hearing aids are programmed to suit your life, it will take some time to become comfortable and get things exactly right. However, if that problem persists or you continue to have discomfort with your hearing, make an appointment at your local Miracle-Ear to have your hearing aids adjusted to more suitable levels. 

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Living with hearing aid programs

The journey to better hearing doesn't end once you've received hearing aids programmed to your ears. Caring for your hearing and your devices is an ongoing process - and Miracle-Ear is here to support you. The best way to keep up with your hearing aid needs is to develop regular maintenance habits for your devices through aftercare and checkups. 

After your first visit with your hearing care specialist, schedule regular appointments to visit your local Miracle-Ear for tune-ups and adjustments. These appointments are useful not only to assess the state of your hearing aids and do routine maintenance, but also to work with your specialist to make any necessary adjustments to your programs. Even with hearing aids, your hearing and your lifestyle can still change, and making adjustments to your hearing aids allow you to continue to make the most out of your hearing health investment. 

If you find yourself experiencing any unexpected changes to your hearing prior to your appointment and are wondering "can I get my hearing aid reprogrammed?", the answer is yes! Part of the Miracle-Ear Advantage is free lifetime service and aftercare, so you can make an appointment at any time and take advantage of these hearing aid programming services. Your hearing care professional will walk you through tests similar to the ones performed during your first visits to understand how your hearing might have changed and recalibrate your devices to meet those new needs. 

Whether you've just had your first visit with your specialist or you're in between appointments, remember that hearing aid programming is a very technical process that can only be done with the help of a licensed hearing care professional. It may be tempting to search "how to program hearing aids" online to try to adjust your hearing aids yourself - but this is a task that has to be done by professionals. Your devices can't be programmed at home, and attempting to do so can lead to costly damages and disrupt your existing programs. Today's devices are not self-programming; you can and should rely on Miracle-Ear's lifetime services and aftercare assistance to make any and all changes. 

Hearing aid programming allows you to move easily between all of life's different listening environments. With this exciting technology, it's easier than ever to maintain - or get back to - the lifestyle you love without any listening disruptions. 

Whether you're curious about how programmable hearing aids can make a difference for you, or want to update the programming on your existing hearing aids, book an appointment at your local Miracle-Ear to meet with an existing hearing care professional to discuss your options. 

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