You’ve probably seen the advertisements. The ones marketing PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, promising a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It seems like a terrific deal—particularly when compared to the substantial price tag of a hearing aid.
In reality, it’s not so much a great deal as it is clever advertising. The commercials do their best to conceal some vital 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 readily available? Here are five 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 leisure products meant to produce advantages to those who can already hear comfortably.
Making use of a PSAP to treat hearing loss is like purchasing 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 contain sophisticated digital technology that can slice up, save, adjust, and control any type of sound. Hearing aids can in addition create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification matches the patient’s hearing loss exactly.
A PSAP, in contrast, is a one-size-fits-all electronic device that amplifies soft sounds. Since every person’s hearing loss is a little different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Rather, PSAPs will amplify all sound, producing distortion in noisy spaces.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech recognition
Speech sounds are unique in that they are primarily represented in the higher frequencies, specifically in comparison to background noises. Seeing that digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while curbing background noise. PSAPs, for the most part, lack this function.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the end
First, hearing loss is occasionally brought on by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for example, earwax buildup is generating your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can restore your hearing within a matter of minutes—and without a dime spent on any amplification devices.
Second, sometimes more significant medical ailments can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional evaluation to rule this out. Considering that you can purchase a PSAP without any communication 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 function the way you would need it to. You’ll probably invest in a hearing aid at some point anyway, so you might as well skip the extra cost of the PSAP.
And finally, contrary to 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 mentioned, are simple amplification gadgets stripped of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, 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 controlled 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 depend on it, are too valuable.