You have probably seen the commercials. The ones promoting PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring an improvement to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It appears to be a great deal—particularly in comparison to the hefty selling price of a hearing aid.
The fact is, it’s not so much a great deal as it is shrewd marketing. The commercials do their best to conceal some vital information while concentrating on carefully chosen talking points.
However, the question remains: why would you want to spend more money on a hearing aid when cheaper PSAPs are 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 actually treating hearing loss. The reason: PSAPs are not FDA-regulated medical devices and cannot be used to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply recreational products meant to produce advantages to those who can already hear normally.
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, on the other hand, are FDA-regulated medical devices that can proficiently treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not programmable
Hearing aids may not look like much on the outside, but inside they contain advanced digital technology that can slice up, store, adjust, and regulate any type of sound. Hearing aids can additionally make modifications for pitch and volume so that amplification complements the patient’s hearing loss precisely.
A PSAP, by comparison, is a one-size-fits-all electronic gadget that amplifies soft sounds. Since everyone’s hearing loss is a little 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 recognition
Speech sounds are special in that they are primarily represented in the higher frequencies, particularly in comparison to background sound. Because digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while restraining background noise. PSAPs, for the most part, lack this functionality.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the end
To begin with, hearing loss is in some cases caused by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax accumulation is producing your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can correct your hearing within a matter of minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification devices.
Second, sometimes more serious medical ailments can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional assessment to rule this out. Considering that you can purchase a PSAP without any interaction 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 most likely invest in a hearing aid at some point anyway, so you might as well forego the additional expense of the PSAP.
And last, compared with 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 recover your money.
5. PSAPs lack the features of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we noted, are simple amplification instruments stripped-down of any advanced 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 regulated with smartphones and watches.
The decision is yours
PSAPs do have their uses. If you have healthy 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.