Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Amplifiers

Hearing Aids vs. Hearing Amplifiers 

In hearing aids, hearing health by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Taking the steps to treat hearing loss is great! Now more than ever, there is a vast range of hearing aids and other instruments that are designed to provide helpful hearing support. These devices often come with various features and technologies that enhance hearing across all environments. With this wide availability of options, it can be difficult to know which device would be best for your hearing needs. Understanding the differences between hearing instruments is critical to effectively managing your hearing loss. Hearing aids can easily be confused for hearing amplifiers which contain key differences you should know about. 

Differences Between Hearing Aids & Amplifiers

Both hearing aids and hearing amplifiers are designed to amplify sound and can even look similar. But it is important to understand the major differences, purposes, and uses for both devices. 

  • Hearing Aids: these devices are specifically used to treat hearing loss. Hearing aids are medical devices regulated by the FDA. They are fitted and customized to the individual and their hearing needs. Hearing aids have advanced processing systems that can be adjusted for specific kinds of hearing loss. This is prescribed and facilitated by a hearing healthcare professional who has specific training in managing hearing health.
  • Hearing Amplifiers: also referred to as personal sound amplifiers, these devices are designed only to amplify sound. They are ready-made and available over the counter. Hearing amplifiers do not serve as treatment for specific hearing conditions including hearing loss. These devices contain microphones that absorb and amplify sound, making the sound louder, so the sound is not adjusted in other ways. 

The major differences to note are that hearing aids are medically prescribed and used to treat hearing loss whereas hearing amplifiers simply boost sound and are not medical devices. Additionally, hearing aids are advanced pieces of technology that are capable of providing tailored support including:   

  • adjusting settings: hearing aids utilize AI technology to know the wearer’s preferences and are able to switch to those preferences automatically when navigating different environments. This means that the wearer does not have to constantly switch settings and volume controls. 
  • features: hearing aids also utilize different technologies to provide features that enhance user experience. A great example of this is Bluetooth technology which connects hearing aids to other electronic devices (smartphone, speaker, laptop etc.). This allows the hearing aids to stream audio directly, sharpening sound quality. Other features include voice recognition and noise cancellation. 

This is in stark contrast to hearing amplifiers which do not offer any additional features and customizable potential. It is important to assess the underlying hearing issue you are trying to address and which type of device will treat it. For hearing loss, it is critical to recognize the symptoms. 

Hearing Loss Symptoms

Hearing loss can be caused by a variety of factors including: existing medical conditions, genetic history, aging, and environmental exposure to loud noise. These factors impact the ears and brain’s ability to process sound effectively which produces a range of symptoms including: 

  • Tinnitus: a buzzing, ringing, clicking like noise that can be experienced in one or both ears
  • Increasing the volume on electronic devices (phone, TV, speaker etc.) 
  • Constantly asking others to speak loudly, slowly, and/or quietly 
  • Sounds are slurred or muffled so identifying individual words is challenging
  • Difficulty hearing in places with background noise and in conversations with multiple people 
  • Being able to hear more clearly in one ear compared to the other 
  • Experiencing confusion and fatigue during/after conversations 

These symptoms can be experienced mildly to severely, making it difficult to complete regular tasks on a daily basis. Symptoms can also take a toll on various aspects of life by straining communication. Strained communication makes it difficult to have conversations and engage with others which can lead to social withdrawal. This kind of isolation means spending less time with family and friends, creating distance and tension. These multifaceted effects impact mental health and general well-being. 

If any of these symptoms feel familiar, contact us today to schedule a hearing test! Hearing tests involve a noninvasive and painless process that measures hearing ability in both ears. This identifies any impairment and the degree of hearing loss you could be experiencing.