Commercials peddling personal sound amplifiers (PSA) may spark your interest if you struggle while listening to the television, conversations and other noises happening at a distance. These small devices amplify noises, according to claims, so that you can watch television without disturbing others or hear conversations in even noisy environments. But you should be careful when you order a personal sound amplifier because it is not a hearing aid and it functions different than a hearing aid.
Both these PSAs and hearing devices can amplify noises, making it easier to hear. But to make up for hearing loss or impaired hearing, you need a hearing aid. If you choose a personal sound amplifying device instead, you could be ignoring the undering cause for your hearing loss. It is never a smart idea to self diagnose, so if you are experience any level of hearing loss, see a doctor and be evaluated.
In order to set people straight on the difference between the devices, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) set forth definitions and guidelines in February 2009. These guidelines state that the purpose of a personal sound amplifier is for non-hearing impaired people to amplify noises for recreational use, including hunting, eavesdropping or watching television. The devices should not be used to compensate for any level of hearing loss and are not meant for constant, daily use. The FDA also does not regulate these amplifiers because they are not meant to treat hearing loss. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are regulated by the FDA through premarket reviews and requirements. Hearing devices manufacturers also must comply with strict guidelines regarding the labeling of products. Because PSA are not so strictly regulated, they can make claims, or omit information, on the packaging. Many personal amplifier packages do not distinguish themselves from a behind-the-ear hearing aid, so if a consumer is not careful, they could end up purchasing a personal sound amplifier believing it is a hearing aid.
These are not inherently good or bad. It is up to the consumer to understand what type of product he or she is purchasing and for what use. If you have hearing loss, get yourself to a doctor. That way you can find out if you need a hearing device. A personal sound amplifier may help in certain situations, but it is unwisely to rely on a device that is not designed for treatment or aid. But, there are situations in which each of us has probably wished we could hear a little better, whether it's hunting, listening in on another person's conversation or babysitting a child in the next room, which in all these cases, a PSA would work just fine.