You have probably seen the commercials. The ones marketing PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a excellent deal—particularly in comparison to the substantial price tag of a hearing aid.
The fact is, it’s not so much a great deal as it is shrewd advertising. The ads do their best to conceal some crucial information while emphasizing carefully chosen talking points.
But the question remains: why would you want to shell out more money on a hearing aid when cheaper PSAPs are readily available? Here are five good reasons.
1. PSAPs are not medical devices regulated by the FDA
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 used to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are merely leisure devices intended to produce benefits to those who can already hear comfortably.
Using a PSAP to manage hearing loss is like wearing 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 customizable
Hearing aids may not look like much on the outside, but inside they include sophisticated digital technology that can slice up, store, manipulate, and control any kind of sound. Hearing aids can in addition make modifications 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 gadget 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, generating distortion in noisy conditions.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are distinctive in that they are primarily represented in the higher frequencies, especially in comparison to background noises. Considering that digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while curbing background noise. PSAPs, by and large, do not have this function.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the long-run
To begin with, hearing loss is on occasion caused by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax buildup is causing 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 significant medical conditions can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional assessment to rule this out. Considering that you can purchase 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 would need it to. You’ll probably purchase a hearing aid at some point anyway, so you might as well forego the extra cost of the PSAP.
And last, unlike 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 regain your money.
5. PSAPs lack the features of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we noted, are simple amplification devices stripped of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, minimize background noise, and accommodate to different surroundings. Some 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 great 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 valuable.