I get a lot of calls and emails with inquiries about hearing loss, hearing aids, etc (better than solicitors calling about insurance, am I right?). One of many questions I hear (hear, get it?), is "what’s a PSAP and why is it so cheap? and how can it help me?" Let’s try to tackle those questions in a few paragraphs or less. Let’s just call this an introduction though because fully discussing this area will take many MANY blog entries.
Personal Sound Amplification Devices or PSAPs are essentially any device that amplifies sound that has not gone through the Food and Drug Administration regulation process to be called a hearing aid. Because these devices are not hearing aids, they cannot be marketed to help with hearing loss; however, they can be marketed to help in a specific situation, like hunting or business meetings. They’re available direct to consumers via online sales and, sometimes, in stores (this is pretty rare though). As to why they’re so cheap? I’m not involved in the production of any of these products so I can’t answer that directly. But, indirectly, I think it’s because these small companies have cut out many of the middle men and their products are not as sophisticated as a top of the line hearing aid.
Uh oh, it’s not as good as a top of the line hearing aid, does that mean it bad? Well, no. This area is extremely difficult to navigate for patients with hearing loss. Let’s keep this simple and do this in bullet point form:
Well, I ended up going over a “few” paragraphs, but it’s a lot to cover. Many people reading this will still have questions so I’ll say now, here are some future blog ideas I had from writing this entry: device specific reviews, the role of the audiologist in fitting a PSAP, programming PSAPs for patients, and addressing the “stigma” of hearing aids/PSAPs. Well, at least I’ll be supplied with material for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, one of those will answer your questions.
Have a great day!!
Nicholas S. Reed