What’s the Difference Between a PSAP, Amplifier, and Hearing Aid?

PSAP. PSA. Hearing Amplifier. Hearing Aid.

There are so many terms flying around for devices meant to improve hearing that it’s hard to keep track of them.

This week, we’ll be talking about different types of hearing devices and which kind is right for you.

What’s the difference between an amplifier, PSAP, and hearing aid?

Amplifiers are a broader category of personal listening devices that include personal sound amplification products or PSAPs.

Simply put, they take in vibrations in the air (sound waves) and output a louder version of the sound into the ear canal. There are some that are more complex amplifiers with options that can be manipulated a bit more by the user, but for the most part, the only setting you can change is how loud they are. 

Hearing aids, meanwhile, are more advanced than amplifiers. Hearing aids are designed specifically for people with hearing loss and, depending on the type of hearing aid, there are more options available for manipulating the sounds so they help adjust for the exact frequencies that the person has trouble hearing.

While amplifiers like PSAPs and hearing aids may share similarities, amplifiers are not classified as medical devices. Hearing aids are and might require a visit to an audiologist to have them fit.

Is a PSAP better than a Hearing Aid for me?

According to the FDA, PSAPs should not be considered alternatives to hearing aids. PSAPs are largely designed for normal hearing. They just turn up environmental sounds. For instance, bird watchers will use hearing devices while on their auditory avian adventure.

Unlike a hearing aid, PSAPs are not medical devices. They are designed to be worn to support specific listening situations, like bird watching. 

PSAPs  are typically much less expensive than hearing aids. Ultimately, they are often simple devices that just take an input and make it louder.

How might I know if I have hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be a challenge to deal with. Unfortunately, many people choose not to deal with it as statistics show that people with hearing loss wait an average of 7 years before seeking help and only 1-in-5 people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.

That’s why it’s important to know the signs of hearing loss and start making a plan to treat them as there are many side effects that can come along with hearing loss including physical and mental health issues. The FDA notes that “untreated hearing loss can lead to isolation, and it has been associated with serious conditions such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, dementia, reduced mobility, and falls.”

A few signs that you may be struggling with hearing loss include: 

  • You have trouble hearing in restaurants or other busy places
  • People always seem to mumble and you can’t hear them
  • You find yourself asking people to repeat themselves multiple times for individual statements
  • A friend or relative has commented on your hearing
  • You feel the need to turn up the volume to enjoy tv comfortably
  • Facing the person talking so you can lip read
  • You begin avoiding social situations because it's hard to follow what’s going on
  • Phone conversations are no longer as enjoyable as they used to be as you have trouble hearing what the other person is saying

One of the best ways to confirm your hearing loss is to visit an audiologist or take our online hearing screening test for free. We could avoid the screening/diagnostic test lingo here by just saying, “Check your hearing online for free”

When should I go see an ENT or other physician about my hearing loss?

Most of the side effects of hearing loss occur over the long term. However if you find yourself experiencing any of the below symptoms, seek medical assistance immediately. 

These include:

  • Chronic ear pain
  • Dizziness
  • Sudden hearing loss/ has gotten worse over a short period of time
  • Hearing loss in only one ear
  • Any matter or fluid coming out of the ear

Why is it important for me to treat my hearing loss with a hearing aid?

Hearing aids can offer dramatic improvement in the quality of life for most people dealing with hearing loss. 

The goal of treating hearing loss is to make day-to-day activities easier and improve the quality of your communication with others.

Is Vibe Air a hearing aid or PSAP? 

Vibe Air is a hearing aid made specifically with mild to moderate hearing loss. It is an air-conduction hearing aid that uses wireless technology. 

Users of the Vibe Air are completely self-sufficient and don’t require an audiologist to adjust anything—you can adjust the volume and sound quality simply by using the Vibe App right on your phone. 

Vibe Air hearing aids offer an easier path to support and treat mild to moderate hearing loss in adults. They are offered at a reduced cost compared to other hearing aids to support as many people as possible with this type of hearing loss.

How do I get a hearing aid?

Most hearing aids like the Vibe Air are only meant for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

It’s important to know that people with severe hearing loss visit an audiologist to determine a safe and appropriate device fit. 

Additionally, severe hearing loss may point to an underlying condition that should be discussed with a licensed medical professional.

Getting a hearing aid that works for your budget is as easy as scheduling an appointment with a certified audiologist today.


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