While I am not here to criticize anyone else's product there are certain facts that one should consider before purchasing one or a pair of these PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products) from the under $100 - $300 range. They are not designed to correct hearing loss. They are designed for the normal hearing person to pick up quiet sounds
Tiny microphones and amplifiers, which are basically what all the PSAPs are, have been around since the early days of science fiction and spy movies. All they do is amplify sound…all sound, with no ability to separate various tones, volumes and/or analyze environments and make adjustments accordingly. Nor can they improve speech recognition. There is no other industry in which the old adage of “you get what you pay for” is more relevant than in the hearing instrument industry. I, Jim Silvis a hearing aid user and writer, can relate from personal experience. I tried a PSAP and it amplified way too much. Now after wearing two different brands of hearing instruments at different technology and price levels, I realize that the sound qualities are not the same. One type of amplification does not fit all peoples needs.
According to the FDA, “PSAPs are intended to amplify environmental sounds for non-hearing impaired consumers. They are intended to accentuate sounds in specific listening environments, rather than for everyday use in multiple listening situations. They are not intended to compensate for hearing impairment or to address listening situations that are typically associated with and indicative of hearing loss.” They are intended for recreational uses such as hunting (listening for prey), bird watching, listening to lectures with a distant speaker, and listening to soft sounds that would be difficult for normal hearing individuals to hear. Because the FDA does not consider PSAPs as a medical device they do not regulate them. According to Susan L Fenrich, some PSAPs have such a high level of sound that they can actually cause damage to one’s hearing. Whereas hearing aids can prevent further damage to one’s hearing by limiting the output of loud environmental sounds as it goes into the ear. Hearing aids are programmed specifically for the hearing loss; PSAPs are not. You don’t want to cause a hearing loss or make your hearing worse by wearing a PSAP.
A greater concern with PSAPs is that people can buy them over the counter or via the Internet without the benefit of a hearing evaluation. It’s very possible for a hearing loss to mask other health issues. A hearing evaluation can call attention to hearing loss and other health problems before they become serious.
Then there’s the issue of personal attention. A qualified, licensed hearing health professional is someone who understands your hearing loss and personal situation and can recommend a hearing instrument that is matched more precisely to your needs; whereas with the PSAPs, what you see is what you get.
If you’re considering having your hearing tested or looking for advice on the subject do yourself a favor and look to the professionals who handle the best available hearing aids brands on the market today. GN RESOUND, OTICON, PHONAK, SIEMENS, STARKEY, and WIDEX are the six leading hearing aid manufacturers in the world. The hearing professional who offers more than one brand, can indeed better serve your hearing loss, lifestyle and financial needs.
By James D Silvis and Susan L Fenrich, BC-HIS
The content contributions of Welsch Hearing Aid Company should not be considered by anyone as a substitute for medical or other hearing health professional diagnosis, treatment, advice, or recommendations.