You’ve most likely watched the advertisements. The ones advertising PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, assuring a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a fantastic deal—particularly in comparison to the substantial selling price of a hearing aid.
The truth is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is clever advertising. The ads do their best to hide some very important information while emphasizing carefully selected talking points.
However, 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 good reasons.
1. PSAPs are not FDA-regulated medical devices
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 not be used to treat any medical condition, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply recreational devices meant to produce advantages to those who can already hear with ease.
Using a PSAP to treat 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 surface, but inside they include complex digital technology that can slice up, store, adjust, and regulate any kind of sound. Hearing aids can additionally create modifications 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 everyone’s hearing loss is slightly different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Instead, PSAPs will amplify all sound, producing distortion in noisy surroundings.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are distinctive in that they are largely represented in the higher frequencies, especially in comparison to background noise. Considering that digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while repressing background noise. PSAPs, for the most part, do not have this functionality.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the long-run
Firstly, hearing loss is sometimes brought about by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax buildup is producing your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can restore your hearing within a few minutes—and without a dime spent on any amplification products.
Second, occasionally more significant medical ailments can cause 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 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 purchase a hearing aid sooner or later anyway, so you might as well skip the extra cost of the PSAP.
And finally, 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 recoup your money.
5. PSAPs lack the features of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we mentioned, are simple amplification gadgets stripped of any enhanced functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and adjust to different environments. Some hearing aid models can even stream phone calls and music wirelessly, and some can be controlled with smartphones and watches.
The choice 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 depend on it, are too important.