You have most likely seen the advertisements. The ones advertising PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, promising a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a great deal—especially in comparison to the significant price tag of a hearing aid.
The reality is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is clever marketing. The ads do their best to conceal 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 expensive 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 utilized to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply leisure products intended to produce advantages to those who can already hear with ease.
Making use of 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 appropriately treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not programmable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they include complex digital technology that can slice up, store, adjust, and control any type of sound. Hearing aids can additionally create modifications for pitch and volume so that amplification matches the patient’s hearing loss precisely.
A PSAP, in comparison, 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, generating distortion in noisy surroundings.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are unique in that they are predominantly represented in the higher frequencies, particularly in comparison to background noise. Because digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while restraining background noise. PSAPs, by and large, do not have this function.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the end
To start with, hearing loss is sometimes caused by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax accumulation is generating your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can improve your hearing within minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification devices.
Second, occasionally more significant medical conditions can result in hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional evaluation to rule this out. Considering that you can buy a PSAP without any interaction with any healthcare specialists, 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 most likely purchase a hearing aid sooner or later anyway, so you might as well skip the additional cost of the PSAP.
And finally, in contrast to 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 functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we stated, are simple amplification instruments stripped-down of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, can enhance speech, minimize background noise, and adapt to different environments. Several 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 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 depend on it, are too important.