Should you get a hearing aid or hearing amplifier? And what’s the difference between the two? Hearing amplifiers (also known as personal sound amplification products) do make sounds louder. But due to a number of limitations, the FDA does not recognize them as medical devices. Audiologists do not recommend hearing amplifiers or any product that is not FDA-regulated to treat hearing loss.
Hearing aids are medical devices that treat hearing loss. Licensed professionals must program these devices based on an individual’s prescription or audiogram. The FDA regulates hearing aids to ensure patient safety. Make sure you understand the differences before you spend your hard-earned money on what you believe is a “cheaper” option.
Hearing amplifiers vs. hearing aids
Hearing aids are not cheap. So it’s understandable why people consider hearing amplifiers. Although amplifiers are advertised as a one-size-fits-all solution to hearing loss, they cannot support that claim. Your hearing loss is as unique as your fingerprint. So you need a solution that meets your exact hearing needs. Only medical-grade hearing aids prescribed by a licensed professional can really treat hearing loss.
While hearing amplifiers may seem like a cheaper option, they won’t fix your hearing loss. In fact, it might even make things worse.
Hearing amplifiers do not clarify speech
An amplifier will just make all the sounds in an environment louder. It won’t make them clearer. Understanding speech requires a balance between specific frequencies. Hearing amplifiers also have the following limitations:
- Can’t separate speech from noise
- Are not customizable to your hearing loss
- No feedback cancellation or wind noise reduction
- Not worth the money
With all these limitations, most audiologists don’t recommend hearing amplifiers to their patients.
The dangers of hearing amplifiers
When used to treat hearing loss, hearing amplifiers can do more harm than good. Hearing amplifiers are designed for people with normal hearing. If you’re hearing is okay, you might benefit from using a hearing amplifier in challenging settings. But for someone with hearing loss, simply amplifying all sounds can actually cause further damage.
What are hearing amplifiers actually good for?
Hearing amplifiers are good for anyone who just wants to hear things louder. For example, people with normal hearing might sparingly use an amplifier for activities like birdwatching. You can think of amplifiers as binoculars for your ears: they zoom in on what you can hear already so you can appreciate it a bit more.
Do you need a hearing aid or hearing amplifier?
The best way to answer this question is by getting your hearing tested. If you have trouble understanding speech or you listen to the TV too loud, then it might be time to visit your local hearing specialist. They will be able to tell you if you’re experiencing hearing loss and would recommend hearing aids. Don’t assume your hearing isn’t that bad. Seek the help of a hearing care professional so that you make the right decision.
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