What exactly is the difference between a personal sound amplifier (PSA) and a hearing aid? One difference is that the PSA is being aggressively advertised in recent months giving rise to quite a lot of confusion. You don’t see similar ads for hearing aids because they are medical devices according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and cannot be offered without having been prescribed by a a hearing specialist or hearing instrument specialist. Hearing aids are designed to help individuals with reduced but still functional hearing; they have settings and sophisticated microprocessors that can be programmed to match specific hearing losses.

Personal sound amplifiers, on the other hand, were created to boost the volume of surrounding sounds for individuals who have normal hearing. Some personal sound amplifiers look very much like hearing aids, but they aren’t; all that PSAs do is raise the volume of sounds. They are not meant to help with the difficulties that a hearing-impaired person might have.

At $100 or less, personal sound amplifiers are attractive to individuals on a budget. After all, the top hearing aids cost over a thousand . The enormous difference in cost is one of the reasons the Food & Drug Administration is now involved developing information campaigns and websites to ensure that consumers understand the distinction. The FDA recommendation is simple: if you are having trouble hearing sounds at what other people deem normal volumes, have your hearing tested by a professional hearing specialist before you consider purchasing a PSA. Depending on a personal sound amplifier instead of getting your hearing tested can postpone essential treatment that could restore your hearing, and in some situations (setting the volume excessively) may even further damage your hearing.

Before you purchase any product to improve your hearing ability, see a hearing specialist. That is the FDA suggestion to make sure you get the proper care. Certain hearing problems (such as an obstruction of the ear canals due to a buildup of ear wax) can be reversed in a single office visit. Hearing loss due to permanent inner ear damage can be improved with meticulously prescribed and adjusted hearing aids. Neglecting the base problem by choosing a device that does nothing more than increase sound levels can cause you to postpone appropriate treatment that might correct your hearing, and thus negate the need for either PSAs or hearing aids.

That said, if your hearing instrument specialist finds no signs of significant hearing loss, but you’re still having some difficulty hearing, you can consider a low-cost personal sound amplifier to help out. When shopping, be sure to only look at PSAs whose technical specs state that they reliably amplify sounds between 1000-2000 Hz, which is the frequency range of normal human conversation. Choose a unit with volume controls that don’t allow it to exceed 135 decibels. That’s already extremely loud! A quality personal sound amplifier has its uses, and can improve the ability of those with normal hearing to hear weak or faraway sounds. A PSA should just not be confused with more precise and more sophisticated hearing aids, or be regarded as a substitute for them by people who have suffered real hearing loss.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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