Hearing aids and amplifiers. What's the difference?

A quick search of hearing aids or hearing devices on the internet will make even the most keen researcher stop to scratch their heads. Hearing aids. Personal sound amplification products (PSAPs). Hearing amplifiers. Prices ranging from 30 Euro a device to 2000 Euro a device. So, what's the difference here?

We can broadly class the devices into hearing aids and amplifiers.

Group 1: Hearing aid

A hearing aid is classed as a medical device and should be dispensed by a registered healthcare professional (in Malta, this would normally be an Audiologist). Hearing aids are rigorously tested and the latest models feature advanced technologies such as mobile connectivity, directional microphones and advanced feedback cancellation (to avoid whistling). Hearing aids also come in different forms to cater for different hearing loss types or patient needs. Hearing aids are also set precisely to an individual's hearing loss to give adequate amplification, without causing any further harm to hearing.

Group 2: Amplifier

This group includes, PSAPs, hearing amplifiers and any device that cannot be legally called a hearing aid. They mostly consist of a basic amplifier with some added features similar to hearing aids. However, the big difference here is that these devices are not classed as medical devices. Pretty much anyone can start manufacturing them with minimal safety standards in place to protect the user from further damage to their hearing. Amplifiers also boost sound with no consideration of the type of hearing loss the patient has. This means that the result is not tailored to the hearing loss, making some sounds too quiet and others too loud. These products can normally be found online or through retailers (not a medical source). All of the above factors mean that amplifiers can be found at really cheap prices, but are far less durable than hearing aids (some lasting only a few months before replacement).

Key differences

1) Hearing aids come with the support of an Audiologist, which is key to getting the most out of the hearing aid.

2) A hearing aid gives you peace of mind that it is a robust, tested and safe to use device.

3) Hearing aids come with a warranty and are more durable long term.

4) Research indicates t