Some Hearing Aids Are Not Hearing Aids. What?

The difference between a hearing aid and an Amplifier

The title to this article is confusing, but the same can be said about devices that can help you hear better. Just because a device “aids” your hearing, doesn’t mean that it is a true “hearing aid,” in the official sense.

To understand this, consider the difference between the prescription glasses you purchase from your optometrist and “reader” glasses you can buy at your local pharmacy. Both are designed to help a person see better, but one has a prescription designed for each eye of a specific individual, and the other is generic, with both lenses exactly the same. They both can “aid” sight, but there is a big difference in who can benefit and to what degree.

Hearables and PSAPs

In the audio world, hearables and PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products) are comparable to readers in the world of vision. Neither of these items require a personal prescription, but both can be used to help improve a person’s hearing under certain conditions.

A PSAP does exactly what their name implies

PSAPs amplify sound! They may look like a hearing aid, but are not prescription-fitted or tuned for your particular hearing loss issues. There are a variety of manufacturers, and, since they are not governed by FDA requirements, the quality of sound enhancement can vary greatly. At Chears Audiology, we do comparisons between a variety of PSAPs to make sure we can offer the best quality to customers who are interested in these devices.

Hearables are very different from PSAPs. They offer very little amplification. These hearing devices resemble earbuds or headphones, which you might use with a digital device, and they can be used that way. They are meant to be used by individuals who have normal hearing or mild hearing loss. Their purpose to is improve hearing in a noisy environment, stream sound from a phone or digital device, to protect a person’s hearing in a noisy environment or when guns are being fired.

Hearables are sometimes referred to as “smart” headphones or earbuds, a small computer in your ear. The functionality of these smart devices is growing far beyond the realm of noise cancellation and hearing clarity. Some are programmed to assist in hearing specific sounds, like tracking game by a hunter, enhancing music listening pleasure. They can even be used for biometrics, to measure vital signs.

Could You Benefit from a PSAP or Hearable?

There may be situations where hearables may be beneficial. If you have mild hearing loss or only have trouble hearing in certain environments, a PSAP or hearable device may offer hearing improvement without the higher price of prescription hearing aids. The best way to find out which hearing device will be the most helpful for you, as an individual, is to meet with our certified audiologist. We can explain the difference between each device and provide recommendations based on our research and your particular needs. Stop in or give us a call at Chears Audiology (612-979-0561). We would be happy to answer your questions.

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