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Ask a TruHearing Provider

Experienced hearing healthcare professionals answer your questions about hearing loss, hearing aids, and overall hearing health.

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Question: I see ads for hearing amplifiers that cost a couple of hundred dollars. Why should I pay more for hearing aids?

Answer:

Access to better, cheaper technology is greater now than it has ever been in the history of mankind. Not only does that mean that hearing aids keep improving and creating better experiences for people who wear them, but it also means that cheap, low-quality technology is very easy to find and buy. But just because something is cheaper doesn’t mean it will solve the problem you need it to.

For example, you’ve obviously seen advertisements for “personal sound amplification products” or PSAPs. PSAPs are over-the-counter devices sold in pharmacies, on the internet, or through TV commercials that don’t require a hearing exam to be purchased. They are often a one-size-fits-all solution that only amplifies soft sounds.

PSAPs are not regulated by the FDA the way hearing aids are. In fact, FDA has issued the following statement on their website:

A hearing aid is a wearable sound-amplifying device that is intended to compensate for impaired hearing. A PSAP is a wearable electronic product that is not intended to compensate for impaired hearing, but rather is intended for non-hearing impaired consumers to amplify sounds in the environment for a number of reasons, such as for recreational activities.

Hearing aids go above and beyond making sounds louder. They are intended to compensate for impaired hearing and go through a rigorous testing process approved by the FDA. Additionally, hearing aids are custom fitted to your ears to treat your unique hearing loss by a specially trained hearing healthcare provider.

Beyond regulatory guidelines, hearing aids have more technological capabilities than PSAPs. For example, hearing aids feature advanced technology for reducing background noise, cancelling feedback, enhancing speech, and more.

A word of caution: PSAP’s users may also risk their health by not first seeking the advice of a licensed hearing care practitioner to properly evaluate their hearing loss. Sometimes hearing losses are caused by an earwax blockage in the ear canal, which can be easily resolved while other hearing losses can be caused by numerous medical conditions which require treatment by a physician. By skipping a professional hearing evaluation, a serious medical condition could be overlooked.

While PSAPs may seem cheaper on the surface, they are not as effective as hearing aids and will not give hearing loss sufferers the same benefit. My advice is to seek the care of a licensed hearing healthcare specialist first to determine any underlying medical issues, then—with their help—make a decision on how to address your hearing loss.

As always, if you need help finding a provider, give us a call and we’ll find one in your area.

Avatar of Austin Singelton, Au.D.

Dr. Singleton is the Audiological Director at TruHearing. He received his Audiology degree from the University of Utah and ran multiple clinics in the Chicago area before becoming the VP of Provider Relations in 2012 and the Audiological Director in 2015.

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