You’ve most likely seen the advertisements. The ones promoting PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a terrific bargain—especially in comparison to the substantial selling price of a hearing aid.
The reality is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is clever advertising. The ads do their best to hide some very important information while emphasizing carefully selected talking points.
However, the question remains: why would you choose to shell out more money on a hearing aid when less costly PSAPs are available? Here are five reasons.
1. PSAPs are not medical devices regulated by the FDA
Listen carefully to the PSAP advertisements. You’ll hear all about “boosts” to hearing but never about actually treating hearing loss. The reason: PSAPs are not FDA-regulated medical devices and can not be used to treat any medical condition, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply leisure products intended to provide benefits to those who can already hear comfortably.
Using a PSAP to manage hearing loss is like using a pair of reading glasses to treat near and far-sighted vision impairment. Hearing aids, on the contrary, are FDA-regulated medical devices that can appropriately treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not customizable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they contain advanced digital technology that can slice up, store, adjust, and control any kind of sound. Hearing aids can additionally create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification complements the patient’s hearing loss precisely.
A PSAP, by comparison, is a one-size-fits-all electronic gadget that amplifies soft sounds. Since every person’s hearing loss is a little different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Instead, PSAPs will amplify all sound, producing distortion in noisy conditions.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are distinctive in that they are mostly represented in the higher frequencies, particularly in comparison to background sound. Seeing that digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while suppressing background noise. PSAPs, generally speaking, lack this capability.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the end
To start with, hearing loss is on occasion brought about by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for instance, earwax accumulation is generating your hearing loss, a simple professional cleaning can correct your hearing within minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification devices.
Second, sometimes more significant medical conditions can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional evaluation to rule this out. Considering that you can purchase a PSAP without any interaction with any healthcare professionals, you could be placing yourself in real danger.
Third, if you do have noise-induced or age-related hearing loss, a PSAP will not function the way you want it to. You’ll most likely purchase a hearing aid sooner or later anyway, so you might as well skip the additional expense of the PSAP.
And last, compared with hearing aids, there is no mandatory trial period for PSAPs. If you buy one and it doesn’t work, there’s no legal guarantee that you’ll recoup your money.
5. PSAPs lack the functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we stated, are simple amplification gadgets stripped-down of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, can enhance speech, minimize background noise, and accommodate to different environments. Several hearing aid models can even wirelessly stream phone calls and music, and some can be controlled with smartphones and watches.
The choice is yours
PSAPs do have their uses. If you have healthy hearing, PSAPs are great for things like bird watching and eavesdropping on conversations, if that’s your sort of thing.
But for hearing loss, don’t settle for less than you deserve. Your hearing, and the relationships that depend on it, are too important.