You’ve probably seen the advertisements. The ones promoting PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, guaranteeing an improvement to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It seems like a terrific deal—especially when compared to the hefty selling price of a hearing aid.
In reality, it’s not so much a great deal as it is shrewd marketing. The commercials do their best to obscure some very important information while concentrating on carefully selected talking points.
But the question remains: why would you want to spend more money on a hearing aid when less costly PSAPs are available? Here are five good reasons.
1. PSAPs are not FDA-regulated medical devices
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’t be utilized to treat any medical condition, including hearing loss. PSAPs are merely leisure devices meant to provide benefits to people who can already hear normally.
Making use of a PSAP to address hearing loss is like wearing a pair of reading glasses to treat near and far-sighted vision impairment. Hearing aids, in contrast, are FDA-regulated medical devices that can proficiently treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not customizable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they contain complex digital technology that can slice up, save, adjust, and regulate any type of sound. Hearing aids can in addition create 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 device that amplifies soft sounds. Since every person’s hearing loss is slightly different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Instead, PSAPs will amplify all sound, producing distortion in noisy situations.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are special in that they are mostly represented in the higher frequencies, particularly in comparison to background noises. Seeing that digital hearing aids can detect variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while repressing background noise. PSAPs, by and large, are lacking this functionality.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the long-run
First, hearing loss is on occasion brought on by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax buildup is causing your hearing loss, an easy professional cleaning can correct your hearing within a matter of minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification devices.
Second, occasionally more significant medical ailments can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional evaluation to rule this out. Because you can purchase a PSAP without any interaction with any healthcare professionals, you could be placing yourself in 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 most likely invest in a hearing aid at some point anyway, so you might as well skip the additional 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 work, 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 devices stripped-down of any advanced functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and adjust to different environments. Several hearing aid models can even stream phone calls and music wirelessly, and some can be controlled with smartphones and watches.
The decision 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 depend on it, are too important.