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Millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss and use hearing aids to regain their quality of life. However, hearing aids can often be expensive and aren’t usually covered by insurance. When this happens, people start to consider buying what are commonly known as “hearing amplifiers.” And while they sound like similar products, there can be some key differences to consider before deciding what is right for you.

Advantages of Hearing Aids

Hearing aids can do far more than amplify sound. They can help you regain your quality of life, and they can:

  • Be highly customized to your specific needs
  • Connect you back to the world
  • Reduce loneliness
  • Delay dementia
  • Lower the risk of falls
  • Reduce the impact of anxiety and depression
  • Improve your sense of safety
  • Reduce the annoyance related to tinnitus
  • Have wireless features such as Bluetooth

What is a hearing amplifier?

Hearing amplifiers or personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) are electronic devices designed for people with normal hearing who want to amplify sounds for reasons that aren’t medically related. They might be worn by attendees at a lecture or performance who sit far from the stage, or by hunters who are listening for their prey. They are not meant to be worn all the time or used for hearing loss, but they can be affordable and help in mild cases.

Online they can be referred to as “hearing aid amplifiers,” “hearing amplifier aids,” “sound amplifiers,” “digital sound amplifiers,” or “voice amplifiers.” If they are described as any kind of “amplifier” that gives you the clue that they are not hearing aids.

Advantages of Hearing Amplifiers

For people who want to amplify sounds for recreational activities, hearing amplifiers:

  • Improve things heard at a low volume or distance
  • Are cheaper and bought over the counter
  • Are available without a prescription or appointment

Hearing Aids vs Hearing Amplifiers

Ultimately hearing aids and hearing amplifiers both amplify sound, but there are a few major differences:

  • Hearing aids are regulated by the FDA and are a Class 1 medical device. They can be customized to your specific level of hearing loss and are available from healthcare professionals.
  • Hearing amplifiers can be purchased over the counter without the need for a hearing evaluation or prescription, but they cannot be customized to your hearing loss patterns.

Hearing amplifiers can be a great benefit when you need a little boost while listening to your favorite TV show or trying to hear your kids from the other room, but if you think you are suffering from true hearing loss, it is important to see an audiologist to talk about getting hearing aids.

Hearing aids contain a much higher level of technology that is prescribed to treat your hearing needs. Hearing amplifiers can boost the level of sound, but it does so across all frequencies, including ones that you can already hear. If these become too loud, you can risk harming your hearing.  Hearing aids amplify the specific frequencies that you need, making sure your hearing is balanced and accurate.

If you are experiencing hearing loss and are considering looking into hearing amplifiers, call one of our audiologists today to see what benefits having customized hearing aids can give to you.