You’ve probably watched the commercials. The ones pushing PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, ensuring an improvement to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It seems like a fantastic deal—especially when compared to the substantial price tag of a hearing aid.
The fact is, it’s not so much a great deal as it is shrewd marketing. The ads do their best to obscure some vital information while emphasizing carefully selected talking points.
However, the question remains: why would you want to shell out more money on a hearing aid when cheaper 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 treating hearing loss. The reason: PSAPs are not FDA-regulated medical devices and cannot be utilized to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are merely leisure devices meant to produce benefits to those who can already hear comfortably.
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 proficiently treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not programmable
Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the outside, but inside they contain advanced digital technology that can slice up, save, manipulate, and control any type of sound. Hearing aids can also create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification complements the patient’s hearing loss precisely.
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. Rather, PSAPs will amplify all sound, causing distortion in noisy situations.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech recognition
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 restraining background noise. PSAPs, generally speaking, do not have this function.
4. PSAPs might cost you more in the long-run
To begin with, hearing loss is in some cases brought about by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for example, earwax buildup is triggering your hearing loss, an easy professional cleaning can correct your hearing within a matter of minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification devices.
Second, sometimes more serious medical conditions can result in hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional examination to rule this out. Because you can purchase a PSAP without any interaction with any healthcare professionals, 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 want it to. You’ll probably purchase a hearing aid sooner or later anyway, so you might as well bypass the additional expense of the PSAP.
And finally, 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 noted, are simple amplification gadgets stripped-down of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and adjust to different surroundings. Some hearing aid models can even stream phone calls and music wirelessly, 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 perfect 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.