You’ve most likely seen the advertisements. The ones pushing PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, promising a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It appears to be a excellent bargain—especially in comparison to the significant selling price of a hearing aid.
In reality, it’s not so much a great deal as it is shrewd advertising. The ads do their best to obscure some crucial information while concentrating on carefully chosen talking points.
But the question remains: why would you want to shell out more money on a hearing aid when less costly PSAPs are readily 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 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 simply recreational products meant to produce advantages to people who can already hear normally.
Using 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 like much on the outside, but inside they contain sophisticated digital technology that can slice up, store, manipulate, and regulate any type of sound. Hearing aids can additionally create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification matches the patient’s hearing loss precisely.
A PSAP, in contrast, is a one-size-fits-all electronic gadget that amplifies soft sounds. Since every person’s hearing loss is slightly different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Rather, PSAPs will amplify all sound, producing distortion in noisy situations.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech recognition
Speech sounds are special in that they are largely represented in the higher frequencies, especially in comparison to background noise. Given that digital hearing aids can identify 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
Firstly, hearing loss is on occasion brought about by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for example, earwax buildup is producing your hearing loss, an easy professional cleaning can improve your hearing within a matter of minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification devices.
Second, sometimes more serious medical conditions can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional examination to rule this out. Because you can buy a PSAP without any communication 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 probably invest in a hearing aid sooner or later anyway, so you might as well skip the additional expense of the PSAP.
And finally, in contrast to hearing aids, there is no mandatory trial period for PSAPs. If you buy 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 mentioned, are simple amplification instruments stripped-down of any enhanced functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and adapt to different surroundings. Several hearing aid models can even stream phone calls and music wirelessly, 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.