You have most likely seen the commercials. The ones advertising PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, promising a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It sounds like a great bargain—particularly when compared to the significant price tag of a hearing aid.
The fact is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is shrewd marketing. The commercials do their best to hide some vital information while concentrating on carefully selected talking points.
However, the question remains: why would you choose to spend more money on a hearing aid when less costly PSAPs are readily available? Here are five good 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 actually treating hearing loss. The reason: PSAPs are not FDA-regulated medical devices and can not be utilized to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply recreational devices meant to provide advantages to those who can already hear normally.
Making use of a PSAP to address hearing loss is like buying a pair of reading glasses to treat near and far-sighted vision impairment. Hearing aids, on the contrary, are FDA-regulated medical devices that can appropriately treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not customizable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they include state-of-the-art digital technology that can slice up, save, manipulate, and control any kind of sound. Hearing aids can additionally create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification matches the patient’s hearing loss exactly.
A PSAP, in contrast, 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, causing distortion in noisy conditions.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech
Speech sounds are distinctive in that they are mostly represented in the higher frequencies, specifically in comparison to background noises. Considering that digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while restraining background noise. PSAPs, generally speaking, do not have this functionality.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the end
First, hearing loss is sometimes caused by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for instance, earwax buildup is causing your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can restore your hearing within a matter of minutes—and without a dime spent on any amplification products.
Second, occasionally more significant medical conditions can result in hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional evaluation 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 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 skip the additional expense of the PSAP.
And finally, 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 functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we mentioned, are simple amplification devices stripped of any enhanced functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, minimize background noise, and accommodate to different surroundings. Some hearing aid models can even stream phone calls and music wirelessly, and some can be regulated 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 depend on it, are too important.