How to Program Hearing Aids: Things You Never Knew

Every person with hearing loss has different needs. Therefore, audiologists need to program every hearing aid differently to meet those needs. 

For some people, professional hearing aid adjustment can be costly. The cost also varies from clinic to clinic. 

While audiologists adjust your hearing aids, they charge you for the time, expertise, hardware, and software they use. Also, you may need to pay for additional visits to fine-tune your hearing aids in some instances. 

So, if you know how you can program your hearing aid, you can save some time and money. All you need to have is a better understanding of sound and good skills with software. 

Here, we will discuss how to program your hearing aids. Don’t go overboard and if you need help, ask your audiologist. If you are programming your own hearing aids, please be aware of the risks involved.

Things You Need to Know Before Programming Your Hearing Aid

Hearing aid parts

Every hearing aid is different, and every person’s needs are unique. Functions and classifications of hearing aids vary a lot. 

Recent digital hearing aids host several features to help the user listen better. So, for meeting individual needs, hearing aids need to be programmed correctly. For better hearing aid performance, audiologists or hearing aid experts adjust the devices.

With proper programming, hearing aids can help people with hearing loss hear better and reduce background noise.

However, you may not always have time to visit your audiologist within a short time. Also, you may not have a backup hearing aid device. In such cases, self-programming can come in handy for you.

Many experts and audiologists advise against this practice. However, simply experimenting with hearing aid software will help you learn more about your hearing aid and what you can do to hear better. 

Programming Your Hearing Aids

Programming your hearing aid consists of two different aspects; acoustic programming and operational programming.

Acoustic Programming: This setting deals with how the sound will be affected. If you program your acoustic setting wrong, it can damage your hearing further. Acoustic programming deals with the frequency your hearing aid should amplify.

Operational Programming: These settings do not affect the sound received by hearing aids. The T-coil setting, music setting, Bluetooth setting are part of the operational setting.

Things You Need for Setting Hearing Aids

You need three things before you can start setting up your hearing aids:

  • Software
  • A hardware interface
  • Cables

Software: To program hearing aids correctly, you need appropriate software. Each manufacturer creates dedicated PC-based applications for covering several hearing aid models.

You can use a regular internet search to find appropriate software for your hearing aid. You can ask your audiologist or the manufacturer for the software. In some instances, the NHS may change the product name. In that case, you will need to find out the original name.

After getting the software, install and explore it. You can explore the software without hearing aids attached.

Hardware interface: Hi-Pro USB (HPUSB) is the most common hardware interface. It works with most hearing aids. You can buy one from eBay. Some manufacturers also produce their own hardware interfaces as well. 

Cables: To connect your hearing aid with a hardware interface, you will need cables. For multiple hearing aids, it’s better to use multiple cables. Also, make sure to get the right cable for your hearing aid. Different hearing aids need different cables. 

You may need to remove the battery flap of BTE and ITE hearing aids to connect the cable. You can find the cables on eBay as well. You can even ask the hardware supplier for the cables. Sometimes your audiologist may have spare cables. You can ask them for the extra one.

What do You need to Adjust in your Hearing Aids?

While programming your hearing aids, you need to keep an eye on the following:

  • Reducing background noise
  • Sound intensity and frequency
  • Sound adjustment
  • Compression ratio

9 Steps to Programming Process of Your Hearing Aids

You need to follow the following steps :

  1. Test what you can hear with your devices beforehand. Ask your audiologist to perform a controlled speech comprehension test. However, any test is limited and may not evaluate how well you can hear in noisy situations.

  2. Connect the hardware interface with your computer containing the software. Also, attach your hardware interface with your hearing aids with cables. Be careful while connecting the cables with your hearing aid as they are quite small.

  3. Programming your hearing aid with the software is a kind of gray practice. However, try not to mess up the whole setting. It may annoy your audiologist.

  4. Download the previous setting from your hearing aids. This way, you won’t need to have your audiogram. Save each “Setting” carefully so you can get earlier settings at any time.

  5. The software consists of all vital information about your hearing aid. You can see graphs and functions in the software. Make small changes and notice how your hearing aids are functioning.

  6. Document each change you make. It helps you retrace your steps if needed. Start with small changes and give it plenty of time to set your hearing aids.

  7. Once you are used to programming your hearing aids, you can make further changes to improve your hearing.

  8. Adjust the gain according to your unique needs. Increasing all the frequencies at once might not be a good idea.

  9. If you have a spare or old hearing aid, start with that one. If you need help, ask your audiologist.

Why Should You Want to Program Your Hearing Aids?

There are several reasons why you might want to program hearing aids yourself:

  • Control: Getting familiar with your hearing aid programming helps you describe what works for you to your audiologist. Otherwise, it is endless trial and error and numerous trips to your audiologist.
  • Economics: Multiple trips to your audiologist can cost you so much money and time. It can frustrate you as well. Learning to program your hearing aid can cut multiple trips to your doctor.
  • Curiosity: If you have hearing loss, you might be naturally curious about your condition. You can experiment with the software without attaching your hearing aids. It allows you to know about your condition better and help your audiologist adjust your device.
  • Immediacy: When you know how to program your hearing aid, you can do it immediately. In this way, you won’t have to tolerate lousy acoustics all day till seeing your audiologist.
  • Real World Setup: You are not always in your audiologist’s office setup. Real-world always has some noise. When you learn to program your own hearing aids, you can set it to cancel all those noises. Therefore, your hearing ability will get better.
  • For Better Sound: Self-programming your hearing aids will give you a better hearing experience. Audiologists can sometimes become overwhelmed with the number of hearing aids they have to tune and program. Therefore, they may not be able to fine-tune every hearing aid. Self-programming allows you to master your hearing aid and fine-tune it for better sound quality.

Nano hearing aids

Final Words

Programming your hearing aids has its perks and drawbacks. You can adjust your hearing aids better and hear better when you know to program them. On the other hand, tiny missteps can make your hearing worse.

Getting the necessary software, hardware, and cables may pose some challenges. Just acquiring the software can help you learn a lot.  It will allow you to learn more about your condition. Therefore, you can help your audiologist help tune your device better.

Keep backups, make small changes at first, don’t rush, and you will be fine. Try not to mess too much with your device. It may annoy your audiologist, which you don’t want.

If you need any assistance, your audiologist is your best friend. Keep a good relationship with your audiologist and ask them for help whenever you need it.

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