You have most likely watched the commercials. The ones promoting PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It appears to be a terrific deal—particularly in comparison to the hefty selling price of a hearing aid.
The reality is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is clever marketing. The commercials do their best to obscure some very important information while emphasizing carefully selected talking points.
However, the question remains: why would you choose to spend more money on a hearing aid when less costly PSAPs are readily available? Here are five good 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 cannot be used to treat any medical condition, including hearing loss. PSAPs are merely recreational devices meant to produce benefits to people who can already hear normally.
Making use of a PSAP to treat hearing loss is like buying a pair of reading glasses to treat near and far-sighted vision impairment. Hearing aids, on the other hand, are FDA-regulated medical devices that can effectively treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not programmable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they include state-of-the-art digital technology that can slice up, save, manipulate, and control any kind of sound. Hearing aids can also make modifications 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 everyone’s hearing loss is slightly different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Instead, PSAPs will amplify all sound, creating distortion in noisy locations.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech recognition
Speech sounds are unique in that they are principally represented in the higher frequencies, particularly in comparison to background sound. Because digital hearing aids can detect variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while curbing background noise. PSAPs, for the most part, do not have this function.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the end
To start with, hearing loss is on occasion brought about by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for example, earwax accumulation is generating your hearing loss, an easy professional cleaning can restore your hearing within minutes—and without a dime spent on any amplification devices.
Second, occasionally more serious medical conditions can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional assessment to rule this out. Because you can buy 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 invest in a hearing aid at some point anyway, so you might as well skip the extra expense of the PSAP.
And last, unlike hearing aids, there is no mandatory trial period for PSAPs. If you purchase one and it doesn’t get the job done, there’s no legal guarantee that you’ll recoup your money.
5. PSAPs lack the functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we said, are simple amplification gadgets stripped of any advanced functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, can enhance speech, minimize background noise, and adapt to different environments. Several hearing aid models can even wirelessly stream phone calls and music, and some can be regulated with smartphones and watches.
The choice is yours
PSAPs do have their uses. If you have normal hearing, PSAPs are perfect 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 count on it, are too important.