They may look identical and be worn by people who have hearing loss or who are hard of hearing, but hearing aids and hearing amplifiers are not the same thing.
If you are considering which of these auditory devices to get, you may want to know what the difference is between them.
Hearing aids are small, electronic devices that are worn in or behind the ear to help people with certain hearing impairments. They work by amplifying and adjusting sound signals so that a person’s ears can better detect them.
Hearing aids require a prescription from an audiologist as the devices are professionally fitted and tuned to mitigate the wearer’s hearing loss and boost certain frequencies. The prescription will be uniquely yours alone just the same as any other medical device.
Types of hearing aids
Behind-the-ear (BTE) models are designed to fit around the back of your ear and is connected to an earpiece with tubing. It’s ideal for those with mild to severe hearing loss as it allows more flexibility in sound amplification.
Receiver-in-canal (RIC) models fit directly inside the ear canal, making it more discreet and comfortable than the BTE. It’s ideal for mild to moderate hearing loss, as the device is less powerful, so sound amplification requires more precision.
In-the-ear (ITE) model fits directly inside the outer ear and is perfect for those with mild to severe hearing loss. They provide direct sound amplification and are less noticeable than other types of hearing aids.
Hearing Aids are usually more useful compared to amplifiers because they can identify and focus on specific sounds, like voices and conversations, while filtering out background noise. Hearing amplifiers on the other hand, only amplifies all sounds without the ability to differentiate between sounds.
Hearing Aids usually have more special features compared to hearing amplifiers which include things like noise reduction, directional microphones, Bluetooth compatibility, artificial intelligence, and wind noise reduction.
Hearing amplifiers are meant to be used by wearers with a full range of hearing. Hearing amplifiers simply increase the volume of sounds regardless of frequency or volume. When compared to hearing aids, they are not able to filter out background noises or specific sounds.
Usually, they’re much smaller than typical hearing aids and feature a discreet design in comparison to their counterparts. They usually don’t require a prescription and may be purchased directly off the shelf or online.
Hearing amplifiers should not be used to mitigate hearing loss. Improper use of hearing amplifiers might even worsen a person’s hearing.
Hearing amplifiers are great for those who want to hear sounds from far away and don’t need the advanced features of a hearing aid. They can help people in different occupations such as bird watchers, hunters, or someone who wants to hear far-away conversations.
Additionally, have a longer battery life compared to hearing aids.
Comparing Hearing Aids and Hearing Amplifiers
Between the two, hearing aids are more costly than hearing amplifiers. Hearing aids are pricier since they are custom-made, meaning that they require more time and effort to build as well as to make them.
The average price for a hearing amplifier can range from $15 to $500 whereas the price for a hearing aid usually ranges from $1,000 to $6000.
Hearing aids are meant to last longer than hearing amplifiers. Hearing aids last between 5 to 9 years or longer with proper maintenance and care. It’s recommended that you clean your hearing aids often as earwax can damage these devices and turn them off when not in use so that you can extend their battery life.
Hearing amplifiers are not built to last. They can operate for several months or a few years depending on the quality of these devices.
But, another thing to note is that as we age, our hearing may worsen or change. So, there is always a possibility that you may outgrow your hearing aids or amplifiers and need to invest in a new one sooner than expected.
If you are unsure which is most suited for you, we advise that you go for a hearing test with a professional audiologist. The results of the test will help you determine which device is best suited to address your current level of hearing.
Hearing Aids are usually for people with mild to severe hearing loss and are either behind-the-ear or in-the-ear devices.
If you find that you cannot hear certain frequencies of sounds, or resort to turning up the TV volume massively in order to hear the programme, or hear buzzing noises in either your left or right ears, then you may require a hearing aid. Hearing aids also help people with tinnitus as adjusting outside volumes can help reduce its symptoms.
Hearing Amplifiers are usually for people with no hearing loss. It amplifies sound in a particular direction increasing the user’s ability to hear sounds they would otherwise be unable to pick up.
If you can still hear music, people’s voices, and other sounds but at a lower volume, then this would be the ideal device for you. But, studies have shown that people’s ears have been damaged by hearing amplifiers since they can emit intense sounds at the highest levels. For people with tinnitus, it’s best to avoid this device entirely.
Do note that frequency-specific hearing loss cannot be remedied through sound amplification alone and wearing an amplifier rather than a proper hearing aid can pose serious risks.
Hearing aids are usually the better option given that they are purpose built and individually fitted for the wearer. Hearing amplifiers simply amplifies sounds in all surrounding areas which could damage your ear depending on the environment you are in.
Do consult an audiologist before purchasing either of these devices.