You have most likely watched the commercials. The ones promoting PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring an improvement to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a fantastic bargain—particularly when compared to the significant price tag of a hearing aid.
The truth is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is clever marketing. The commercials do their best to hide some vital information while concentrating on carefully selected talking points.
However, the question remains: why would you want to spend 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 commercials. You’ll hear all about “boosts” to hearing but never about 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 merely leisure products meant to provide benefits to those who can already hear with ease.
Making use of a PSAP to manage hearing loss is like buying 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 programmable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they include sophisticated digital technology that can slice up, save, manipulate, and regulate 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, in comparison, is a one-size-fits-all electronic device 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, producing distortion in noisy spaces.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are unique in that they are mostly represented in the higher frequencies, particularly in comparison to background noises. Seeing that digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while repressing background noise. PSAPs, for the most part, do not have this capability.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the long-run
Firstly, hearing loss is sometimes brought about by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax accumulation is generating your hearing loss, an easy professional cleaning can improve your hearing within a few 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 evaluation to rule this out. Considering that you can purchase a PSAP without any interaction with any healthcare professionals, you could be putting yourself in real danger.
Third, if you do have noise-induced or age-related hearing loss, a PSAP will not work the way you want it to. You’ll probably purchase a hearing aid sooner or later anyway, so you might as well bypass the additional expense of the PSAP.
And finally, compared with 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 get back your money.
5. PSAPs lack the features of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we explained, are simple amplification instruments stripped-down of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, can enhance speech, minimize background noise, and accommodate to different surroundings. Several hearing aid models can even wirelessly stream phone calls and music, and some can be controlled with smartphones and watches.
The decision is yours
PSAPs do have their uses. If you have regular 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 depend on it, are too valuable.