You have probably 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 fantastic deal—particularly when compared to the hefty selling price of a hearing aid.
The truth is, it’s not so much a great deal as it is shrewd marketing. The ads do their best to hide some very important information while concentrating on carefully selected talking points.
But the question remains: why would you choose to spend more money on a hearing aid when cheaper PSAPs are readily available? Here are five 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 cannot be used to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are merely recreational devices intended to produce advantages to those who can already hear normally.
Making use of a PSAP to treat hearing loss is like purchasing 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 properly treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not programmable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they include advanced digital technology that can slice up, store, adjust, and control any kind of sound. Hearing aids can also make modifications for pitch and volume so that amplification matches the patient’s hearing loss exactly.
A PSAP, in comparison, is a one-size-fits-all electronic gadget that amplifies soft sounds. Since everyone’s hearing loss is slightly different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Instead, PSAPs will amplify all sound, creating distortion in noisy settings.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are unique in that they are mostly represented in the higher frequencies, especially in comparison to background noises. Because digital hearing aids can detect variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while repressing background noise. PSAPs, by and large, are lacking this capability.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the end
To begin with, hearing loss is in some cases brought about by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for instance, earwax accumulation is triggering your hearing loss, an easy professional cleaning can restore your hearing within a matter of minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification products.
Second, sometimes more significant medical ailments can result in hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional assessment to rule this out. Because you can purchase 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 would need it to. You’ll most likely purchase a hearing aid sooner or later anyway, so you might as well bypass the extra cost of the PSAP.
And finally, compared with 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 regain your money.
5. PSAPs lack the functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we said, are simple amplification devices stripped of any enhanced 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 healthy hearing, PSAPs are great 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.