You have most likely watched the commercials. The ones advertising PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a terrific bargain—particularly in comparison to the hefty selling price of a hearing aid.
The reality is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is shrewd marketing. The commercials do their best to obscure some crucial information while concentrating on carefully selected talking points.
But the question remains: why would you want to shell out more money on a hearing aid when less costly PSAPs are available? Here are five reasons.
1. PSAPs are not FDA-regulated medical devices
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’t be utilized to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply leisure devices intended to provide advantages to people 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 other hand, are FDA-regulated medical devices that can proficiently treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not customizable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they contain sophisticated digital technology that can slice up, save, manipulate, and regulate any kind of sound. Hearing aids can also create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification complements the patient’s hearing loss precisely.
A PSAP, in comparison, 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. Rather, PSAPs will amplify all sound, generating distortion in noisy environments.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are unique in that they are predominantly represented in the higher frequencies, specifically in comparison to background noises. Given that digital hearing aids can detect variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while restraining background noise. PSAPs, for the most part, do not have this function.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the long-run
First, hearing loss is sometimes caused by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax accumulation is triggering 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, sometimes more serious medical ailments can result in hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional evaluation to rule this out. Because you can buy a PSAP without any communication with any healthcare specialists, you could be placing 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 sooner or later anyway, so you might as well forego the extra expense of the PSAP.
And finally, contrary 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 get back your money.
5. PSAPs lack the features of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we mentioned, are simple amplification devices stripped-down of any advanced functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and accommodate to different surroundings. 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 count on it, are too important.