Consumer Reports warns about cheap sound amplifiers

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    Consumer Reports warns about cheap sound amplifiers

    SAN ANTONIO Are you having trouble following conversations in a noisy restaurant? Are you straining to hear a co worker in the cafeteria? Experts at Consumer Reports looked at some affordable, over the counter alternatives to expensive prescription hearing aids called sound amplifiers.

    Most cost a fraction of the price of prescription hearing aids, which can cost thousands of dollars. Some amplifiers even cost less than $50. But Consumer Reports says to be careful with these penny saver models.

    “The really cheap ones aren that effective at helping people with hearing loss, and more importantly, they could actually potentially damage people hearing further by over amplifying loud sounds, kind of like a siren, for instance,” said Julia Calderone, Consumer Reports health editor.

    Two other pricier amplifiers the $350 Sound World Solutions CS50+ and the $214 Etymotic Bean did a little bit better in the tests. When tested in a lab by a professional hearing aid researcher, both showed promise for people with mild to moderate hearing loss while also protecting against over amplification.

    Plus, panelists who tried the pricier amplifiers said they were comfortable and easy to use. But in real life situations, reactions were mixed.

    “They seemed to help with things like TV watching, but they weren so great at deciphering conversations in a noisy environment,” Calderone said.

    Consumer Reports said some amplifiers may be cheap jerseys worth a try as a less expensive alternative to prescription hearing aids, but advises that the best thing to do is to see a hearing specialist to see if the devices are right for your needs.

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