You’ve probably seen the commercials. The ones advertising PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It seems like a fantastic deal—particularly in comparison to the substantial selling price of a hearing aid.
The truth is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is shrewd marketing. The commercials do their best to conceal some very important information while concentrating on carefully selected talking points.
But the question remains: why would you choose to shell out more money on a hearing aid when cheaper PSAPs are readily 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 recreational products meant to provide benefits to people who can already hear normally.
Making use of a PSAP to address hearing loss is like purchasing a pair of reading glasses to treat near and far-sighted vision impairment. Hearing aids, in contrast, are FDA-regulated medical devices that can proficiently treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not customizable
Hearing aids may not look like much on the outside, but inside they contain advanced digital technology that can slice up, store, adjust, and regulate any type of sound. Hearing aids can in addition 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 device 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, causing distortion in noisy environments.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are distinctive in that they are primarily 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 restraining background noise. PSAPs, generally speaking, lack this functionality.
4. PSAPs could cost you more in the end
First of all, hearing loss is sometimes brought about by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax accumulation is triggering 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 serious medical ailments can result in hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional assessment to rule this out. Considering that you can purchase a PSAP without any communication with any healthcare professionals, you could be putting yourself in real danger.
Third, if you do have noise-induced or age-related hearing loss, a PSAP will not function the way you would need it to. You’ll probably purchase a hearing aid at some point anyway, so you might as well forego the extra 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 get back your money.
5. PSAPs lack the functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we noted, are simple amplification instruments stripped-down of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, in contrast, can enhance speech, minimize background noise, and adapt to different surroundings. Several hearing aid models can even wirelessly stream phone calls and music, and some can be regulated with smartphones and watches.
The decision 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 depend on it, are too important.