You have most likely seen the commercials. The ones advertising PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, guaranteeing an improvement to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It seems like a fantastic bargain—particularly in comparison to the substantial price tag of a hearing aid.
The truth is, it’s not so much a great deal as it is clever marketing. The commercials do their best to conceal some vital information while concentrating on carefully selected talking points.
But the question remains: why would you want to spend more money on a hearing aid when less costly PSAPs are 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 can’t be utilized to treat any medical ailment, including hearing loss. PSAPs are simply leisure products intended to produce benefits to people who can already hear normally.
Using a PSAP to manage hearing loss is like wearing 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 effectively treat hearing loss.
2. PSAPs are not customizable
Hearing aids may not look like much on the outside, but inside they contain sophisticated digital technology that can slice up, store, adjust, and regulate any kind of sound. Hearing aids can also create 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 device that amplifies soft sounds. Since every person’s hearing loss is slightly different, PSAPs won’t amplify the correct frequencies. Instead, PSAPs will amplify all sound, creating distortion in noisy situations.
3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech recognition
Speech sounds are distinctive in that they are principally represented in the higher frequencies, specifically in comparison to background noises. Given that digital hearing aids can detect 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 end
First, hearing loss is in some cases caused by factors that do not require hearing amplification whatsoever. If, for example, earwax buildup is generating your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can correct your hearing within a few minutes—and without a cent spent on any amplification products.
Second, sometimes more serious medical ailments can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional assessment to rule this out. Considering that 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 want it to. You’ll probably invest in a hearing aid sooner or later anyway, so you might as well skip the additional 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 work, there’s no legal guarantee that you’ll recover your money.
5. PSAPs lack the functionality of a hearing aid
PSAPs, like we stated, are simple amplification instruments stripped-down of any sophisticated functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and adapt to different environments. Several 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 regular 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 valuable.