You have probably seen the advertisements. The ones marketing PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, guaranteeing a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a fantastic bargain—especially when compared 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 hide 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 costly PSAPs are available? Here are five 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 can’t be utilized to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are merely leisure products intended to provide advantages to people who can already hear comfortably.
Making use of a PSAP to manage 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 like much 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 adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification complements the patient’s hearing loss exactly.
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, producing distortion in noisy settings.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech recognition
Speech sounds are special in that they are principally 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 curbing background noise. PSAPs, generally speaking, lack this function.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the end
To begin with, hearing loss is occasionally brought on by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax buildup is triggering your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can improve your hearing within a few 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 assessment to rule this out. Because you can purchase a PSAP without any communication with any healthcare specialists, you could be placing yourself in 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 at some point anyway, so you might as well forego the additional expense of the PSAP.
And last, unlike 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 functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we stated, are simple amplification gadgets stripped of any enhanced functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and accommodate to different surroundings. Some 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 normal 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 count on it, are too important.