Thinking about ordering a low cost hearing aid you have seen on a Facebook/online post, overseas website or in a magazine? Most likely these will actually be a Personal Sound Amplifier (PSA), not a true hearing aid, and there is a difference.
Hearing aids are intended to make up for impaired hearing and are typically programmed to your hearing loss based on a hearing test by a hearing aid dispenser/professional. Hearing aids have sophisticated microprocessors that can be programmed to match an individual’s hearing loss.
A PSA is essentially just an amplifier that will amplify all sounds across the frequency range and is not tailored to your individual hearing loss. A PSA raises the volume of sounds. Typically PSA’s look the same as hearing aids however a PSA is not able to correct the subtle sorts of difficulties that people with hearing loss experience. PSA’s were created to increase the volume of surrounding sounds for people who have normal hearing.
If you are having trouble hearing, do not purchase a PSA without having your hearing checked by a hearing aid dispenser/professional or at the very least discussing your hearing loss with them. Using a PSA when you really need a hearing aid has many disadvantages. First it can cause you to delay assessment and management of your hearing loss. Second, it might damage your hearing further if the PSA is used regularly or at raised volumes. A true hearing aid is a certified medical device in order to assure its safety and effectiveness. PSA’s are not subject to medical device regulations.
If, however your hearing aid dispenser/professional finds no evidence of hearing loss, and you are still having difficulty hearing faint sounds, then you can consider purchasing a PSA. It’s important to look at the PSA’s technical specs, and only consider those that adequately amplify sounds in the frequency range of human speech (between 1000-2000 Hertz). Also, don’t purchase any PSA’s that don’t have a volume control and electronically-enforced decibel limits that don’t permit their volume levels to go beyond 135 decibels. A good quality PSA has its uses and can improve the ability of people with normal hearing to hear weak or distant sounds. The danger in PSAs is mixing them up with hearing aids – which they aren’t. If you think you may have hearing loss make an appointment to have your hearing evaluated by a hearing aid dispenser/professional.
While a prescription from your GP is not required for hearing aids, it’s important to see a hearing aid dispenser/professional to ensure that hearing aids are properly fitted and programmed/tailored to your individual hearing loss and preferences.
At Hearing True we offer a Free hearing test and appointment and all our hearing aids are certified medical devices.