Many of these devices were already available to consumers for some years before the bill was signed. However, until the bill was signed, these were not intended as hearing aids, nor were they branded as such.

They were, as you might expect, designed to amplify sound, and marketed primarily at customers who were not hearing-impaired. Under the new legislation, some PSAPs will be made available as OTC hearing aids. Today, many places now carry different OTC hearing aid brands.

However, PSAPs still differ from professional hearing aids in several key categories.

Hearing Aids vs. PSAPs

PSAPs don't require a hearing professional to prescribe and program them. While this may, on the surface, seem like it would save you time and money, it also means there's a certain degree of danger to purchasing one of these devices. Because you don't have the guidance of a professional audiologist, you may end up with a device that further damages your hearing.

Personal sound amplification products are only intended for mild hearing loss. If you're suffering from major hearing loss, or worse, a condition like tinnitus, an OTC hearing aid likely isn't going to do the trick. Even the best OTC hearing aids out there will not be able to match professional hearing aids that are tailored to an individual.

Personal sound amplification products lack selective amplification. Depending on how much you spend on your PSAP, you may end up with one that amplifies all sound in a given radius. Some modern PSAPs can limit and tweak your amplification, and come with a range of programmable settings.

PSAPs are a one size fits all. Professional hearing aids are specifically designed and fitted to your ear's unique shape. Not so with OTC hearing aids. They come in one of several basic sizes. If they don't fit your ears, then you are, unfortunately, out of luck.

Personal sound amplification products are feature-scarce. OTC hearing aids lack features that professional hearing aids have. Some places do carry over the counter rechargeable hearing aids from different brands. In contrast, modern professional hearing aids actually have a ton of cool features, including Bluetooth connectivity, configurable/programmable amplification, and easily-rechargeable batteries. By contrast, OTC hearing aids are basic and bog-standard, though they cost significantly less as a result.

Can PSAPs Help Your Hearing?

The Food and Drug Administration does not permit personal sound amplification products to be marketed to the public as devices to improve or treat impaired hearing. While PSAPs may be a feasible option for individuals suffering from minor hearing damage or hearing loss, they're no replacement for one prescribed and installed by a professional audiologist. If you suspect you may be suffering from hearing loss, your best bet is to consult an audiologist or hearing care professional.

Remember that your hearing is precious, and can't be fully restored once lost. It's imperative that you choose hearing care tailored to your unique needs. If you have any questions or want to know more about getting the best care, our friendly professionals will be happy to assist you. Better yet, you can book a free online hearing test right now.