Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Amplifiers

Bryan Green, HISHearing Aid Technology, Hearing Aids

A hand holding hearing aids next to a hearing amplifier

On the surface, hearing aids and hearing amplifiers seem like the same thing. Both work to make sounds louder so that you can hear them even after incurring hearing loss. However, these two devices are intended to serve quite different purposes, and one is not a replacement for another. Let’s take a look at the differences between these two devices, as well as the purposes they should serve. If you know what type of assistance you need, you can make sure you are getting the right treatment for your hearing and don’t incur further damage to your ears.

Hearing Amplifiers

Personal Sound Amplification Products, otherwise known as PSAPs, are useful devices in a number of contexts. These units amplify all of the sounds in an environment to make them easier to hear. Some people use PSAPs to be able to hear children playing nearby or babies crying, making childcare more responsive. Others use them for specific purposes, such as bird watching or going to the theater. Although these devices have their purposes, they are only intended for use by those who have fully functional hearing. Those who can hear easily in everyday contexts might like to turn up the volume on very specific sounds such as those mentioned above. However, they are not intended for use by those who have hearing loss. Hearing aids are specifically designed to help those who have hearing loss.

Hearing Aids

If a person has hearing loss, it seldom occurs in the entire audio spectrum. Pitches of sound, otherwise known as frequencies, may be more difficult to hear than others. For instance, a person with hearing loss tends to lose hearing in the higher frequencies while maintaining the ability to hear lower frequency sounds. This phenomenon explains why so many people with hearing loss are unable to hear speech while they are still able to hear the bass notes of music coming from a passing car. These differences lead to a unique hearing profile in each person who experiences hearing loss. When you go to the audiologist for a hearing exam, the results will be depicted in an audiogram. This graphic depiction shows which frequencies can be heard at what volume level. Each person has a different audiogram corresponding to the individualized nature of hearing loss.

Which Device is Right for Me?

Although it might seem like an easy shortcut to simply raise the volume of the entire environment with a hearing amplifier, this solution is not appropriate for a person with hearing loss. Although you might be able to hear things that were otherwise difficult, you are also hearing an unnecessarily loud volume of sounds that you are already able to hear. This very loud volume can do more harm than good. By raising the volume of all sounds, you may be damaging your hearing in the ranges that you were already able to hear with ease.

This danger of hearing amplifiers for those with hearing loss led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release a notice warning people with hearing loss not to use hearing amplifiers as a replacement for hearing aids. Hearing aids are designed only to amplify the sounds that the ears have the most trouble hearing, often including human speech. These devices are remarkable technological advancements that can both assist hearing when it is needed while preventing damage to the other ranges of hearing.

If you have hearing loss, it may be tempting to use hearing amplifiers to raise all the sounds in an environment. However, the right step is to seek out assistance from a hearing specialist.

Posey Hearing Center

When you visit us at Posey Hearing Center, the first step will be to have a consultation about the contexts in which you struggle to hear. With this information in mind, our team will complete a comprehensive hearing exam to understand your individualized hearing profile.

With this information in hand, our team can recommend the right type of hearing technology for you – most commonly, the prescription of hearing aids. Even within the context of hearing aids, there are many styles and types that may appeal to you, merging seamlessly with your activities and lifestyle. Make the responsible choice by consulting with our team at Posey Hearing Center to take care of your hearing needs!

Bryan Green, HIS
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