You have probably seen the commercials. The ones promoting PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, promising an improvement to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a terrific deal—particularly when compared to the hefty selling price of a hearing aid.
The reality is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is shrewd advertising. The commercials do their best to obscure some crucial information while emphasizing carefully chosen talking points.
However, the question remains: why would you want to shell out more money on a hearing aid when less expensive 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 treating hearing loss. The reason: PSAPs are not FDA-regulated medical devices and can not be utilized to treat any medical condition, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply recreational devices intended to produce advantages to those who can already hear comfortably.
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 other hand, are FDA-regulated medical devices that can properly treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not programmable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they include complex digital technology that can slice up, save, manipulate, and control any kind of sound. Hearing aids can also create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification complements the patient’s hearing loss precisely.
A PSAP, in contrast, is a one-size-fits-all electronic device that amplifies soft sounds. Since everyone’s hearing loss is a little different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Instead, PSAPs will amplify all sound, creating distortion in noisy situations.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are unique in that they are primarily represented in the higher frequencies, especially in comparison to background sound. Seeing that digital hearing aids can detect variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while curbing background noise. PSAPs, for the most part, lack this functionality.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the end
To begin with, hearing loss is on occasion brought on by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for instance, earwax accumulation is producing your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can restore your hearing within minutes—and without a dime spent on any amplification products.
Second, sometimes more significant medical ailments can result in hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional assessment to rule this out. Because you can purchase a PSAP without any interaction with any healthcare professionals, you could be putting yourself in 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 probably purchase a hearing aid at some point anyway, so you might as well forego the extra expense of the PSAP.
And last, 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 recuperate your money.
5. PSAPs lack the functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we said, are simple amplification instruments stripped-down of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and adapt to different environments. Some hearing aid models can even wirelessly stream phone calls and music, and some can be regulated 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 count on it, are too important.