Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Amplifiers

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

When you realize that you are developing hearing loss, you will likely start researching your options for treatment. With the vast array of options out there, it can be quite overwhelming to find which ones suit your needs. Among those available when you do your Google search, you might stumble upon hearing amplifiers. With a name so much like hearing aids, the difference in price can come as quite a surprise. Though it might not always be the case, the old adage “you get what you pay for” certainly applies in this case. In fact, you might even be paying for something that harms your hearing instead of helping it! Let’s take a closer look at the difference between hearing aids and hearing amplifiers in order to better understand what you can do to get durable treatment. 

Hearing Amplifiers

The low cost of hearing amplifiers makes them increasingly popular, yet they can make matters much worse for those with hearing loss. These devices raise the volume on the entire spectrum of sound. Though this might not seem like such a bad thing, this brute approach misses out on an opportunity to protect your hearing. For nearly all people with hearing loss, the loss does not happen equally across the range of sounds. Certain frequencies, or pitches, of sound are more difficult to hear than others. A person might even have perfectly good hearing in some ranges, while other ranges are nearly impossible to hear without assistance. When you use a hearing amplifier, it can bring up the sound of missing frequencies, making it possible to hear some things. However, these devices also raise the sound of background noise. The competition between the sound of a voice in a conversation, for example, and the sound of loud background noise can make it nearly impossible to communicate. Even worse, by adding noise to a range of sound that you can already hear, hearing amplifiers can actually cause additional hearing loss. By introducing noise into your existing range of hearing ability, you might be speeding up the process of hearing loss, indeed. 

Hearing Aids

What makes hearing aids different is the individualized nature of their amplification. The latest hearing aids don’t simply raise the volume on the world, but they raise the sounds that are most difficult for you to hear. If you have hearing loss in a particular frequency range, hearing aids can target their assistance on those sounds. You might have worse hearing loss in one ear than the other, and hearing aids can adjust to those differences, as well. Furthermore, the latest technology makes it possible to digitally process sound, making it even easier to hear what others have to say. Noise reduction and voice recognition technologies can identify the sound of a speaker at closest proximity, raise the voice of the speaker, and lower the sound of other voices or noises in the room. With this customizability, hearing aids protect the hearing ability that you still have will stepping in to assist in the missing ranges of sound. 

A Wise Investment

Although the sticker price on hearing amplifiers can be tempting, they are an unwise investment in the long run. While you run the risk of further damaging your hearing in the future, these devices are unlikely to work for long. You might even make matters worse in other domains of health and wellness down the line. A connection has been documented between hearing loss and dementia, and the inability to easily communicate seems to be the factor connecting these two conditions. If you speed up hearing loss in the range of human speech, you might be doing serious damage to your cognitive ability, as well. With these considerations in mind, the value of hearing aids is certainly greater than that of hearing amplifiers, all told. If you’re ready to get professional assistance with hearing, simply contact our offices for a hearing test. We will complete a thorough diagnosis of your needs and pair you with the right hearing aids for your individual needs. When it comes to your hearing and health, take care that you aren’t doing more harm than good!

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