What is the exact difference between a hearing aid and a personal sound amplifier (PSA)? One difference is that the PSA is being aggressively advertised in recent months generating a great deal of confusion. You don’t see comparable advertisements for hearing aids in part because they are medical devices according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and cannot be sold without having been prescribed by a an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. Hearing aids are intended for individuals with hearing problems ranging from modest to extensive. They are programmed for each individual to precisely target their unique hearing impairment as determined by the dispenser or audiologist.

Personal sound amplifiers, on the other hand, were designed to raise the volume of sounds for people who have normal hearing. Some PSAs look similar to hearing aids, in that they are small and can be worn on the body, but the only thing that they do is amplify sound. PSAs are not able to correct the unique sorts of difficulties that hearing-impaired individuals have.

The low price of PSAs (under $100, in contrast to thousands of dollars for the top hearing aids) can make them seem appealing to people on a limited budget. The vast variation in cost is one of the reasons the FDA has gotten involved establishing websites and information campaigns to ensure that consumers understand the distinction. In case you are having difficulty hearing, do not purchase a personal sound amplifier without having your hearing checked by a professional audiologist. Using a personal sound amplifier instead of having your hearing examined can postpone vital treatment that could bring back your hearing, and in some situations (turning the volume up too high) can even further damage your hearing.

So, prior to making any decision about buying a device to help your hearing, see your hearing instrument specialist or audiologist. Some cases of hearing loss, such as those due to excessive ear wax, can be reversed in one office visit. Other types of hearing impairment may be more serious or even irreversible, but they can also be effectively cared for using quality hearing aids that have been correctly prescribed and adjusted. An audiologist or hearing instrument specialist will be able to establish the underlying cause of your problem. In certain cases you won’t require a hearing aid or a personal sound amplifier.

If, on the other hand, your hearing specialist or audiologist finds no evidence of serious hearing loss, and you’re still having trouble hearing weaker sounds, then you can think about buying a PSA. If you choose to buy a personal sound amplifier, you’ll want to check the specifications carefully and try to find one that states it amplifies in the frequency range of human conversation. That range is 1000 to 2000 Hertz. Also, don’t purchase any PSAs that don’t come with volume controls and electronically-enforced loudness limits that do not allow their volume levels to exceed 135 decibels. There’s a role for PSAs in the marketplace when utilized by the right individuals. PSAs can be very helpful for people with normal hearing to hear faraway or weak sounds better. The risk in PSAs is mixing them up with hearing aids – which they aren’t. If you suspect hearing loss, make an appointment to have your hearingprofessionally tested.