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Hearing Aids

You’ve probably watched the commercials. The ones advertising PSAPs, or personal sound amplification products, guaranteeing a boost to hearing for as little as 20 dollars. It appears to be a great deal—particularly when compared to the substantial selling price of a hearing aid.

The truth is, it’s not so much a good deal as it is clever marketing. The ads do their best to conceal some vital information while concentrating on carefully chosen talking points.

However, the question remains: why would you choose to shell out more money on a hearing aid when less expensive PSAPs are available? Here are five reasons.

1. PSAPs are not medical devices regulated by the FDA

Listen carefully to the PSAP commercials. 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 not be utilized to treat any medical condition, including hearing loss. PSAPs are merely leisure devices intended to provide advantages to those who can already hear with ease.

Making use of a PSAP to address hearing loss is like using 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 appropriately treat hearing loss.

2. PSAPs are not customizable

Hearing aids may not look very impressive on the surface, but inside they include intricate digital technology that can slice up, save, adjust, and control any type of sound. Hearing aids can in addition create adjustments for pitch and volume so that amplification matches the patient’s hearing loss precisely.

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 locations.

3. PSAPs can’t enhance speech

Speech sounds are special in that they are largely represented in the higher frequencies, specifically in comparison to background noises. Because digital hearing aids can identify variations in sound frequency, hearing aids can amplify speech while curbing background noise. PSAPs, by and large, do not have this function.

4. PSAPs could cost you more in the end

To start with, hearing loss is in some cases caused by factors that do not require hearing amplification at all. If, for example, earwax buildup is generating your hearing loss, a straightforward professional cleaning can correct your hearing within a matter of minutes—and without a dime spent on any amplification products.

Second, sometimes more significant medical conditions can cause hearing loss, so you’ll want a professional examination to rule this out. Because you can buy a PSAP without any interaction 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 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 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 get back your money.

5. PSAPs lack the functionality of a hearing aid

PSAPs, like we said, are simple amplification devices stripped of any enhanced functionality. Hearing aids, on the other hand, can enhance speech, reduce background noise, and adjust to different environments. Several 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 valuable.