You’ve probably watched the commercials. The ones pushing PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, assuring a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It seems like a terrific deal—particularly in comparison to the significant selling price of a hearing aid.
The reality is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is clever marketing. The commercials do their best to conceal some crucial information while concentrating on carefully selected talking points.
But the question remains: why would you choose to shell out more money on a hearing aid when less expensive PSAPs are readily available? Here are five good 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 not be utilized to treat any medical condition, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply recreational devices intended to provide advantages to those who can already hear comfortably.
Using a PSAP to manage hearing loss is like using a pair of reading glasses to treat near and far-sighted vision impairment. Hearing aids, in contrast, 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 surface, but inside they contain advanced digital technology that can slice up, save, manipulate, and control any kind 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, by comparison, is a one-size-fits-all electronic gadget that amplifies soft sounds. Since every person’s hearing loss is a little different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Instead, PSAPs will amplify all sound, generating distortion in noisy locations.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are distinctive in that they are largely represented in the higher frequencies, specifically in comparison to background noise. Given that digital hearing aids can detect variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while curbing background noise. PSAPs, generally speaking, do not have this capability.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the end
Firstly, hearing loss is in some cases caused by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for instance, earwax buildup is producing your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can correct 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 buy a PSAP without any interaction with any healthcare professionals, you could be putting yourself in real danger.
Third, if you do have noise-induced or age-related hearing loss, a PSAP will not work the way you want it to. You’ll probably purchase a hearing aid at some point anyway, so you might as well forego the additional expense of the PSAP.
And last, in contrast to 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 recoup your money.
5. PSAPs lack the features of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we explained, 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 environments. Several 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.