You have most likely watched the advertisements. The ones marketing PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It seems like a great deal—particularly in comparison to the significant selling price of a hearing aid.
The truth 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 concentrating on carefully chosen 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 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’t be used to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply recreational products intended to produce advantages to those who can already hear normally.
Using a PSAP to address 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 effectively treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not programmable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the surface, but inside they contain sophisticated digital technology that can slice up, store, adjust, and regulate any kind of sound. Hearing aids can also create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification matches the patient’s hearing loss precisely.
A PSAP, by comparison, is a one-size-fits-all electronic device that amplifies soft sounds. Since every person’s hearing loss is a little different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Rather, PSAPs will amplify all sound, creating distortion in noisy surroundings.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are distinctive in that they are predominantly represented in the higher frequencies, especially in comparison to background noises. Because digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while suppressing background noise. PSAPs, for the most part, do not have this functionality.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the long-run
First of all, hearing loss is sometimes brought on by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for example, earwax accumulation is producing your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can restore your hearing within minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification products.
Second, occasionally more significant medical ailments can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional examination to rule this out. Considering that you can purchase a PSAP without any communication with any healthcare professionals, you could be putting yourself in 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 forego the extra expense of the PSAP.
And last, contrary to hearing aids, there is no mandatory trial period for PSAPs. If you buy one and it doesn’t work, there’s no legal guarantee that you’ll regain your money.
5. PSAPs lack the features of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we mentioned, are simple amplification instruments stripped-down of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and accommodate 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 regular hearing, PSAPs are great for things like bird watching and eavesdropping on conversations, if that’s your sort of thing.