You may have come across personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) as you research hearing aid options to treat your hearing loss.
The marketing for these devices is slick, with vague promises to help you hear more. Our hearing specialists at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas have been asked about picking up a PSAP, as it can seem like it is a smart, budget-friendly alternative to buying hearing aids. However, a personal sound amplifier cannot be considered a replacement for hearing aids if you struggle with hearing loss.
Function of Hearing Aids vs Personal Sound Amplifiers
First, let’s clarify something—personal sound amplifier products are not hearing aids. In fact, it is illegal for them to even be called hearing aids, as they not medical devices like hearing aids are classified as by the FDA. PSAPs are not regulated by the FDA, which means there is no quality control, and one personal sound amplifier can vary wildly from another.
To help illustrate the basic differences between these two products, we have created a direct comparison below.
|Hearing Aids vs||Personal Sound Amplifiers|
|Class 1 medical devices||Over-the-counter, unregulated devices|
|Designed to correct hearing loss||Makes all sounds louder, with no distinction|
|Needs to be fitted by hearing specialist||One-size-fits-all design|
|Can find a range of features||Limited features (mic, amplifier, receiver)|
As you can see, one of the major differences between a hearing aid and a personal sound amplifier is the fact that hearing loss cannot be corrected with a PSAP. These devices only amplify sound, with no distinction between sounds.
What Use Does A Personal Sound Amplifier Have?
So, if PSAPs are not meant to correct hearing loss, no matter what their marketers would like you to think, what exactly are they supposed to do for people?
Consider this example—say that you have normal hearing, but you have an infant down for a nap. You may not want to turn up the volume on your TV, since you don’t want to wake your baby, but you don’t want to put on headphones, in case they start to cry and need you. So, instead, you pop in a pair of PSAPs to amplify all the sound around you. That way, you can still enjoy your entertainment and hear when your child wakes up.
If you have hearing loss and attempted to use a pair of personal sound amplifiers to correct the loss, you would have very little success. Imagine wearing them inside a cafe during lunch with a friend. Instead of just having your friend’s voice amplified, you will have the server’s voice, other diner’s conversations, the sounds of food, opening and shutting of the cafe door, kitchen sounds, and all other ambient noises will be amplified in a cacophony of sound.
Hearing aids are the only devices with the sophistication to allow human speech to be properly amplified, along with directional microphones so you only catch the conversations you want, and other sounds will be processed at a lower volume, much like natural hearing would do for you.
Potential Issues With PSAPs
Along with not helping with hearing loss like they pretend they can, there are are some potential issues with using personal sound amplifier products which can have dangerous results.
- Loud noise exposure – While using a PSAP, you can actually suffer hearing loss levels of loud noise exposure, as the amplifying devices deliver sound at unregulated levels. It can also trigger tinnitus symptoms as your ears are impacted by louder-than-normal levels of sound.
- Can cause impaction and infection – Depending on the design of the personal amplifier, the device can cause earwax compaction. Once the wax has become compacted, it may require a hearing specialist to safely remove. Without assistance, water and bacteria can become trapped around the compacted wax, leading to infection and permanent damage.
- Further hearing deterioration – The longer you go without proper treatment for your hearing loss, the further your hearing can deteriorate. Using a PSAP can leave you with a false sense of safety, while in reality, your hearing is becoming more damaged.
Hearing Associates Is Your Source For Quality Hearing Aids
Rather than run the risk of dealing with these potential issues, if you have hearing loss, then it’s time to visit your local hearing healthcare specialists at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas. At our hearing clinics, we carry most major hearing aid brands and can obtain the perfect hearing aids for your needs.
To work with our hearing specialists to test your hearing and find the right hearing loss solutions for your needs, contact us for an appointment today.