If you have a hearing problem or have a loved one who does, you may have heard of PSAPs or Personal Sound Amplification Products. You may have been wowed by claims that wearing a personal sound amplifier can give you extraordinary hearing. We’ve seen the commercials and we bet you’ve seen them too. It does sound like Personal Sound Amplification Products are the next best thing to sliced bread, or is it?
What are Personal Sound Amplification Products?
PSAPS are over the counter electronic devices that may help improve hearing. They are not FDA approved unlike hearing aids, which is why they can be sold anywhere. In fact, you’ve probably seen one at your local Walmart or Target. You may have been tempted to get yourself one instead of getting a hearing aid, more so that hearing aids can cost thousands upon thousands of dollars and has to be prescribed by a hearing doctor.
By the FDA’s definition, PSAPs are wearable sound-amplifying devices that are intended for individuals with no hearing impairment who simply need to amplify sounds to better enjoy recreational activities. The FDA defines hearing aids as wearable sound-amplifying devices for the hearing-impaired. It is actually quite misleading to see commercials and internet marketing schemes hailing PSAPs as medical hearing devices that are as good as hearing aids, when in fact the intended use for the two devices are certainly not the same. Personal Sound Amplifications products are certainly not hearing aids and will not perform on the same level as one.
Who would benefit from using PSAPs?
Now, it should be noted that personal sound amplifiers may work for some individuals but it is certainly no miracle solution to your hearing problem. It works best for individuals with only mild to moderate hearing impairment (although it is really not intended for someone with a hearing impairment to begin with). Another important thing to note is since you do not need a prescription to purchase PSAPs, they are often not covered by insurance or Medicare.
Before running to the store or ordering PSAPs online, a person with a hearing problem should first be tested by a hearing doctor (an audiologist) to rule out medical issues that could causing the hearing impairment such as an infection, an inner ear tumor or abnormal bone growth, or excessive ear wax production. More so, a hearing doctor is familiar with the various types of PSAPs available in the market and can help you choose which personal sound amplifier would be best for your needs. Note that PSAPs comes in different styles just like hearing aids and one design might suit your lifestyle better over another. In some cases, your doctor might suggest that you get a hearing aid instead of a PSAP if it is the best option for your needs.
More Scoop on PSAPs
These days, quite a bit of improvement have taken the PSAP market by storm and some brands are manufacturing PSAPs with hearing aid-like features. In fact:
- Some PSAPs are designed to improve hearing in noisy environments and amplify hard to hear sounds such as voices and pet noises. This type of PSAP also works to reduce background noise and often can be worn either behind the ear or in-ear. Price is usually below $500 for one and under $1,000 for a pair.
- Some PSAPS are designed to improve hearing in generally quiet settings such as at home. This type of PSAP amplifies high frequency sounds more than it amplifies low frequency sounds. The result is that the wearer can better understand and hear voices. Price is usually below $400 for one and under $800 for a pair.
The options above may be too expensive for some and yes, there are cheaper options out there. Small hand-held amplifiers can be as affordable as just $100 but they do not come with the features described above. They do come with ear buds and a small microphone, plus the volume can be adjusted to your liking.
*All prices quoted are based on market average.
PSAPs might be worth looking into if you do not have a very pronounced hearing impairment; however, with more affordable hearing aids available these days that are just around the same price range as some brands of PSAPs, it would be wiser in the long run to go for the hearing solution that would actually be more beneficial for you.