Did you know there are 3 tiers of hearing devices? Pre-programmed hearing aids specified to the wearer’s test results, programmable hearing aids waiting to be tailored by the wearer, and amplifiers. Read on to find out which option is best for you and why it might be best to purchase hearing aids tailored to your hearing results.

Amplifiers vs. Hearing Aids

When you first look at an amplifier sitting next to a hearing aid, you may not be able to tell the difference. Both are small and can sit either around or inside the ear. Both have adjustable volumes and enhance the hearing of the wearer.

So, what’s the difference? Right off the bat, it is important to note that amplifiers are not FDA approved. In fact, in 2009 the FDA released a consumer update stating that amplifiers, also known as Personal Sound Amplifying Products (PSAPs), should not be used by those with hearing impairments. The amplifiers are intended primarily for people looking to turn up the volume in certain scenarios.

If you do have hearing loss and plan to use a PSAP instead of hearing aids, you could actually cause future damage for yourself. The volume of a PSAP is not limited and can get too loud for internal ear use, meaning you could cause further hearing damage by wearing an amplifier.

Alternatively, if you plan to use an amplifier instead of a hearing aid, it may not be powerful enough for your needs. Sounds may be louder, but not loud enough when you need them to be.

Unlike amplifiers, hearing aids can be programmed to fit your specific needs. For example, if you are looking to turn up the volume on a movie, an amplifier increases the volume overall, but a hearing aid can focus in on the movie dialogue to make it easier to understand. Amplifiers tend to be a popular first step on the road to hearing aids because they are cheaper and do not have to be bought through an audiologist. However, with more companies like Audicus offering hearing aids at a discounted price, you have more options to find what best fits your needs.

Programming Your Hearing Aids

Typically when you go to your audiologist, they will first check your overall ear health with an otoscopic examination and a tympanometry , then conduct a hearing test resulting in an audiogram. The audiogram shows the severity of hearing loss in each ear and is akin to a prescription for glasses from your eye doctor. The audiogram is used to program a pair of hearing aids for your specific needs.

While you can purchase generic hearing aids and program them yourself at home, why not leave that up to a professional? Audiologists, like those at Audicus, can translate the audiogram into hearing aids that will be perfect for you, guaranteed. With their vast experience and knowledge, they can tinker with the hearing aids if you find them to be uncomfortable or have any issues. Check out the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders to see a basic overview of additional types of hearing aids and how they can benefit you.

By: Diana Michel

Sources: FDA, NIDCD