3D Printing Revolutionizes the Hearing Aid Market

The process of 3D printing may be foreign to you, especially when you think of it in the context of an item like a hearing aid. But with most hearing aids made via 3D printing in the United States today, you’ll realize that this technology has really taken off. Because 35 million people in this country suffer from hearing impairments, it’s necessary to ensure each person receives a hearing aid that fits properly. Right now, about 10 million 3D printed hearing devices are in circulation, so if you’re wearing a hearing device, it was likely created using this method. This burgeoning technology is only growing more. It’s also called additive manufacturing, meaning that layer upon layer is added rather than stripped away.

Benefits of 3D Printed Hearing Aids

Of all the many advantages to using 3D printed hearing aids, the ability to customize the product specifically to one person’s ear is probably the biggest benefit. This is important because all ears are different in small ways. If you used traditional manufacturing processes, it would be hard to achieve a perfect fit for every person. Consequently,  technology represents a big effect on the hearing impaired and medical communities as a whole. This formerly work-intensive process is now an automated, more efficient one that takes a fraction of the time and offers practicality at its core.

Why it’s so Important

In a world dominated by technology, it becomes necessary to apply that knowledge to devices like hearing aids. With 35 million people suffering from hearing loss, this boom in technology has never-ending benefits for the hearing impaired community. Utilized in partnership with 3D laser scanning, the process of creating a hearing aid just takes less than a day to complete. Audiologists are the professionals responsible for creating a pointcloud, which is really just a digital image of the ear using a laser scanner. Once that’s done and the hearing instrument specialist has gone through a quality check, she can construct the model to produce a shell or mold of the hearing aid, which is constructed out of resin that can be fitted with acoustic vents, essential electronics and circuitry that help the device synchronize sound. other components. An awesome 150,000 points of reference are used in the process due to digital cameras that apply these findings to the template and mold. Before final printing, several geometric patterns and combinations are tested to come up with a superior product in terms of efficiency and quality.

Foods that can Prevent Hearing Loss – and Hearing Aids

While fruits and vegetables, along with fish and even dark chocolate, do a lot to boost your overall health, they also have a hidden benefit: they improve your hearing health and curb hearing damage. Sure, we all know that hearing health declines as we get older, making us more susceptible to hearing damage. But you may have missed the memo that the foods you consume may help curb the chance of developing hearing loss over time. Protection of your ears is paramount to a healthy diet, which is backed by evidence that’s emerged saying healthy foods that are good for our bodies overall are also good for our ears. Check out the following foods that directly impact the health of your ears.

Dark Chocolate

Didn’t think dark chocolate was good for you? Well, perhaps you knew it contains antioxidants that are good for your body in moderation, but maybe you didn’t know this sweet treat can actually prevent hearing loss. This indulgence – taken in moderation – can contribute to the health of your ears thanks to the high amounts of zinc it contains along with other important antioxidants. Alternatively, you can take a zinc supplement every day to achieve the same results.

The Power of Veggies

Getting enough vegetables in your diet, especially the cruciferous powerhouse broccoli, helps you boost your overall health along with the health of your ears. Crammed with several vital vitamins and minerals that keep free radicals from doing long-term damage to the tissue in your ears, vegetables should be a constant part of your daily diet. In addition, you’ll notice that your hair and skin will become healthier as well.

Salmon and Similar Fish

If you’re thinking about having a fish dinner tonight, go for it. Reach for the salmon if you’ve got a choice, and you’ll reap the benefits of the many omega-3 fatty acids that fish comprises. This crucial nutritional element to your hearing health also boosts the blood flow throughout your entire body. The more blood flow in your ears, the better it is for your hearing. Choose fish – and their fatty acids – for keeping your blood pumping strong and preventing hearing damage well into your senior years.

Better Health with Bananas

Filled with magnesium, it’s no wonder bananas are nature’s perfect fruit. You get countless overall health benefits with bananas but you also get the specific benefits of improved hearing health. Great for your waistline and your ears, reach for a banana and get the benefit of magnesium for curbing hearing damage.

Citrus Fruits: Lemon and Orange

When thinking of the perfect fruit to guard against ear infections, reach for the citrus fruits. Oranges and lemons are jam packed with vitamins C and E, which are known to prevent hearing loss by keeping damaging ear infections at bay. Did you know that leaving untreated ear infections can lead to the development of chronic hearing damage? Pick up an orange or lemon today!

Untreated Hearing Loss Linked to Depression

If you have a problem with your hearing, such as impairment, then you will be very interested in the results of a new study that was completed by people from the Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. As it turns out, people who have hearing impairment or hearing loss are far more likely to suffer from depression than other people. We will examine this study in depth as well as ways to protect your hearing and how to treat depression.

Treating Depression

It may surprise people that the best way to go about treating depression in individuals with hearing loss is not to treat the depression first. Since hearing loss induced depression is often caused by distancing and dissociation with normal life activities, restoring a person’s ability to hear will allow them to be reintegrated into life again. This can allow depression to be cleared up naturally. However, some also want to use medication and therapy to treat hearing loss as well so that all aspects of the problem are covered.

Protecting Your Hearing

One of the most important things that you can do to prevent suffering from hearing loss induced depression is to protect your hearing throughout your life. Some people are not aware of the amount of damage that loud noises can do to your hearing. That is why it is necessary to limit the amount of loud noises that you are exposes to, such as MP3s and concerts. Yet, not every person has the ability to avoid loud sounds throughout their daily lives. This means that it becomes necessary to protect your hearing from damage by wearing ear plugs as well as other forms of protection.

The Study

The study that was completed showed that there was a definitive link between hearing loss as well as depression. The study took over 18,000 people from all walks of life and between the ages of 18 and 80. The people were all tested for their hearing loss, and then had the results taken. Finally, they were given a test to show whether or not they had depression attitudes.

The results of this particular test surprised everyone. They found that more people than ever suffer from hearing loss at younger ages. Moreover, 11% of these people with hearing impairment also suffer from depression. The only confounding factor was that people over the age of 70 did not have the same amount of depression that was seen in others. This study will continue to go on in the future to see what caused the difference.

Earwax Removal – How you’re doing it wrong

The only person who should come close to your ears for regular cleaning is a professional. Audiologists have the tools necessary to do this in a way that can preserve your hearing. These tools are much better than anything you may be using on your own, such as tissue, pinkies and cotton swabs. Severe harm can be made to your precious ear canals if you remove earwax yourself. When you leave your ear wax alone, it preserves its natural function — protecting the ear canal. If it feels uncomfortable upon build up, causing a certain degree of hearing loss, head to a professional for removal. Here we show you why these three cleaning techniques are hurting your ears.

Ear Drops

Ear drops can be purchased at any store so they may seem OK to use, but that’s not always so. They may be ineffective due to the different ear canal sizes and shapes of each person. When you take into account the varying composition of your ear canal, you realize what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another person. Ear drops work by placing the liquid into your ear, then waiting for it to loosen the wax and flow out when you tilt your head.

Cotton Swabs

It’s so easy to stick that cotton swab in and grab the earwax, leaving you with a refreshed feeling, but you could be doing some real damage. Your ear canal is very sensitive, so you’re actually harming your ears when you attempt this, plus you’re setting yourself up for discomfort in the future. Cotton swabs are great for removing that superficial layer of wax, but you’re also pushing the rest of the wax deeper into the ear, causing earwax impaction. Hearing loss can also result with this dangerous practice.

Ear Candle

Another dangerous practice is ear candling which involves putting a flame near your ear. Not a good mix! You could burn your skin, clothing or even hair when you attempt this method,  which involves putting a special hollow candle made of wax-coated fabric and long wick in your ear to lure out the melted earwax. Ideally, a vacuum should be created in the ear through the heat coming off the flame but this isn’t typically what happens – there’re simply not enough suction to be considered effective. In addition, you risk burns and even eardrum puncture.

Head to an Audiologist for Ear Care

Rather than try these methods on yourself, see a professional hearing instrument specialist who can remove your earwax for you in a clinical setting. This safe removal comes from years of training with access to special tools to get rid of the accumulation. You’ll get that clean feeling and even hear better as well. You can get an exam that will check for eardrum damage, plus you can make an appointment to come back in the future for more earwax removal.

How Noisy Workplaces are Causing Hearing Loss

Perhaps you love going off to your job each day, as it provides many fulfilling experiences in your life. You probably don’t think of the effect your work environment has on your hearing, though. Certain occupations carry with them the potential for hearing loss over time due to the loud noises that occur on a daily basis. This is a growing concern as a common form of workplace injury for those immersed in a noisy environment consistently. Let’s take a look at the dangers these jobs pose to the health of your ears. You can avoid permanent damage by taking a few simple precautions.

Construction

Contractors immerse themselves in loud environments every day, thanks to all the hammering, sawing, machines and trucks that are part and parcel of a construction site. Construction workers expose themselves to acute noise trauma daily without even knowing it, so it would be wise for them to put on ear plugs or noise dampening headphones for safety.

Farming

While easily one of the most gratifying jobs to have, farming requires the daily use of loud machines and equipment that typically meet at least 85 decibels of sound – enough to cause hearing loss. Even though farmers get immense satisfaction knowing they are helping people by growing healthy crops, they often set themselves up for hearing loss.

Mining

Mining, a dangerous job any way you slice it, provides real value to everyone. Miners not only provide us with important raw materials, they also provide us with the fuel we need to heat our homes and drive our cars. Unfortunately, the loud noises coming from the heavy equipment underground, compounded by the confined space, can trigger hearing damage in workers.

Military

Offering some of the noisiest work environments around, the military features loud noises in the form of construction, explosives, tanks and artillery. This can lead to high rates of hearing loss in those within the armed forces. You up this risk when you add in the sounds of daily weapons training and exposure to heavy machines. Unfortunately, a high number of returning veterans come home with acoustic trauma, a type of hearing impairment.

Ground Workers at Airports

Airports are loud even for those in the building. Ground workers have to direct planes and jets out on the runway, and therefore must wear protective ear wear to guard again severe hearing damage. The jumbo jet noise on the runway can get up to about 160 decibels, which is double the accepted rate of 85. Over 85, and hearing loss starts to occur. Those in the commercial and military plane services industries are at an even higher risk.

Club Employee

You may not think about it much, but the individuals who work in nightclubs aren’t having nearly as much fun as the patrons are. First off, they’re there to do a job, and second, that job happens to have a lot of loud noises attached to it, from yelling to ear-splitting music. DJs, bouncers, bartenders and waitresses in particular suffer from an increased risk of hearing damage.

Closed-Captioning Glasses allow people with hearing loss to enjoy the the movies!

If you’re not hearing impaired, you take it for granted that you can head out to catch the latest flick at the theater right away without any extra effort on your part. However, hearing impaired individuals don’t have that luxury, and must wait until the movie has been released with added captions. Change is on the horizon, though, in the form of closed-captioning glasses available at select movie theaters now, giving everyone the chance to enjoy films together. Let’s examine this new technology and where you can expect to find the new glasses.

Concept

Randy Smith, chief administrative officer of Regal Cinemas, had a dream for many years to come up with a technology that would enable hearing impaired individuals to see a new movie at the theater. He created the concept for closed-caption glasses in partnership with Sony and Regal Cinemas to produce what’s known as Sony Entertainment Access Glasses. While the testing phase took many years, they’re now available in limited release at 6,000 screens all over the country.

Design

Boasting holographic technology, these glasses delivers bright, crystal clear and easy-to-read subtitles that float in the air right in front of you, transmitted via a media server sent wirelessly to a receiver. This design works for a variety of body types, shapes and sizes, with comfort at the center of the concept. They’re slightly oversized – just a but bigger than ordinary glasses – and yet fit right over your existing lenses.

Operation

Access Glasses offer ground breaking advantages to those who suffer from hearing loss. For the first time, hearing impaired people can view the latest movies with captions that can be configured for brightness based upon the individual user. This allows for optimal viewing of captions that are bright and clear, with no straining. Make adjustments for your own requirements to better enhance the movie experience. You’re best off sitting in the middle of the theater for ideal results.

Once the movie starts rolling, there are sensors on either side of your head that can detect subtitles through a data transmitter, displaying the words in front of you. They seem to float right in the air! This gives you a comfortable, revolutionary way to enjoying the entire movie experience, representing a big advancement in the field of hearing impaired technology. With success may come more availability at additional locations.

Location

Across the United States, there are currently 6,000 screens that are offering this new technology.  The testing phase is still ongoing to work out any kinks and determine interest in the system. The addition of more theaters and screens will depend on this initial interest and the success of the technology for hearing-impaired users. The future will show whether the new product will take off, but the outlook looks positive.

Hearing Dogs – Assistance for hearing loss and the deaf

By now, of course, you’ve heard of seeing eye dogs who are trained to help individuals who are blind in their daily activities. However, the last decade has seen the emergence of hearing dogs who are capable of helping the hearing-impaired community. This has brought about the training of many different breeds of dogs, such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers, so they can help individuals who suffer from hearing loss get about better in their daily lives. In this piece, we will examine the training and benefits that are offered by these hearing dogs.

Obtaining a Dog: the Requirements

The prerequisites to obtaining a hearing dog are many. In order to be a good candidate, you must fill out an application and show proof of being at least 18 years old. You should also have a friend or family member in mind who can provide assistance with in-home training of the dog. Via the application process, it will be assessed whether or not you can provide an adequate living space for your hearing dog. The final step? You need to attend canine training and go back on a yearly basis to follow up on additional training and tracking. In return, you will be rewarded with a hearing dog that can make your daily life easier while providing friendly companionship at the same time.

Training Regimen Involved

These amazing hearing dogs, who are uniquely trained to alert the individual with hearing loss, must go through between four and six months of training. This is so that the proper temperament can be honed and developed in order to comply with this type of job. Trained to respond to several different sounds—like doorbells, fire alarms and telephones – these dogs are then placed with their partner and trained with even more additional sounds to gel with their specific lives.

Hearing Dogs: How They Help Their Owners

Once placed with their partner, hearing dogs are put through three weeks of personalized care custom tailored to ensure they make a good match. Upon completion of training, hearing dogs can help their deaf or hearing impaired owners with a variety of services that make their daily lives easier. This is done through alerts of various sounds around the house, plus they can communicate in several different situations.

When walking through town and a fire engine approaches, for example, your dog is not specifically trained to alert you to the actual sound, but you will be able to tell from their body language that something is amiss. After a long period of time with your dog, you will find that you will determine additional sounds and situations as it pertains to your partner’s specific reactions. The bottom line is that eventually, your hearing dog will be able to pick up on anything you need to be specifically alerted to.

5 Unhealthy Habits That Can Cause Hearing Loss

You may not be attuned to it, but one aspect of health you may be unaware of is just how intricately connected your hearing is to the functioning of your entire body. This has been backed up by research through studies that have made a correlation between one part of the body affecting the hearing, posing adverse affects tied to an unhealthy habit. In this article, we’ll check out ways in which you may be engaging in unhealthy habits on a daily basis and what kind of negative impact those habits can have on your hearing.

Exposing Yourself to Loud Noises

When you expose yourself to very loud noises, such as concerts, you put yourself at risk for both temporary and long-term damage to your ears due in large part to the pulsations of the speakers. It doesn’t need to be a loud rock concert, though. Have you ever cranked up the volume on your video games or television when the game is on? This can turn a single negative habit into a negative cumulative effect on your hearing.

Smoking

As one of the unhealthiest habits that can harm not only your lungs but your hearing as well, you may not realize smoking can affect your hearing. However, it does indeed pose a significant threat because of the harmful chemicals in the cigarettes that can harm the delicate vibration sensors in the ears. What happens is that the ears have to work all that much harder to perceive small amounts of sounds. Avoid this unhealthy habit, which can impact your health beyond simply losing weight.

Using an MP3 Player

Hate to sit through a boring lecture hall or want to drown out the noises in a loud public place? Your answer may be to don ear phones or ear buds and turn the volume way up. This practice, however, carries with it a serious side effect – to your hearing. Whenever you put music on in this way, you are channeling all that loud sound directly into your inner ear. The result? There’s no place for that sound to diffuse and that extra energy crashes against the eardrum to bring on significant damage over time.

Not Visiting Your Doctor

If you take a relaxed approach to your health, you may not visit the doctor unless it is an emergency. But you should really go to regular appointments with your healthcare provider so he or she can track any changes in your hearing, determine your hearing risk, and let you know ways in which you can employ a healthier overall lifestyle, thereby lowering your risk of hearing loss.

Living a Sedentary Lifestyle

In many nations, a new health danger is becoming more and more prevalent: obesity. A sedentary lifestyles contributes to this, plus it’s known to cause diabetes. This devastating disease leads to lowered circulation throughout the body, having a direct link with a high chance of experiencing hearing loss. You don’t have to let this happen, however; you can eat a healthy diet and exercise every day to improve your chances.

Marching Band Musicians are at Very High Risk for Hearing Problems

Around six million U.S. teenagers have some form of hearing loss, which represents an increase of about a third over the last 2 decades. While authorities claim that this hearing loss is in part caused by regular exposure to high volumes of music from portable players and phones, taking part in marching band is yet another possible cause. As nearly every city high school and college has a marching band, band membership is a quite common activity among teens.

Unsafe decibel levels for teenagers.Noise levels are measured in decibels, also written as dB. Sounds in excess of 85 dB can lead to hearing loss in both children and adults. Marching band includes a variety of instruments, some of which easily cross over that threshold during rehearsals and performances. An experiment at Duke University showed that a drumline rehearsal exposed students to decibel levels of 99 over a 30-minute period. What can be even more damaging than playing those instruments on the field is playing indoors for rehearsals. Unfortunately, many youths don’t reduce the volume of their instruments when playing inside.

Prevention and protection strategies. An effective solution for reducing sound levels is the use of musicians earplugs. Musicians earplugs are custom-designed to fit an individual’s ear perfectly. Musicians earplugs can be expensive, which may be a problem for parents. Another effective strategy for protecting young people’s hearing is to reduce the length of time they are exposed to potentially harmful sound levels by breaking up the rehearsals into shorter sessions. Band leaders and participants also need to be aware of how important it is to lower the volume of their instruments when practicing indoors. Parents, teens, and band leaders should work together to increase awareness and to implement strategies for protecting the hearing of marching band members.

Read These 5 Facts About Hearing Loss among Soldiers

Missing appendages, post-traumatic stress, and brain trauma: These are what many people think of when they think about post-combat injuries. What many often don’t consider is hearing loss as a severe combat injury. Here are 5 facts you may not know about hearing loss among veterans.

    1. Hearing loss is the most prevalent injury among post-combat veterans. – Hearing loss is even more common than PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Severe hearing loss is commonly caused by bomb detonations and general military and combat noise. Improvised explosive devices, loud weapons, and other sounds such as the engines of ships, planes, and tanks can cause tinnitus and temporary to permanent loss of hearing. Soldiers who have served since September 2011 are especially afflicted with hearing damage. Indeed, the numbers of soldiers who suffered hearing loss or tinnitus after the attacks on the World Trade Center swelled to 414,000.
  • Soldiers are more likely to suffer hearing damage than civilians. – The CDC (Center for Disease Control) estimates that soldiers are 30 percent more likely to lose their hearing than civilians. Worse yet, those who served after 9/11 were found to be four times more likely to be afflicted with some sort of hearing impairment than nonveterans.

 

  • Soldiers now may suffer more hearing damage than those who have served in past decades. – With the advent of improvised explosive devices and more powerful combat technology, more veterans are coming home with hearing loss than their predecessors. Intensely loud field generators, bombs such as “bunker busters,” and even modern helicopters can cause hearing impairment if soldiers don’t take precautions.

 

  • Unfortunately, many of the soldiers who come home with loss of hearing do not seek help. – According to experts, many soldiers with hearing loss or tinnitus choose to live with the problem, rather than getting help. In fact, most people will wait an average of 7 years from initially noticing hearing loss to actually seeking medical attention.

 

  • Neuroscience innovations may be a way to alleviate severe tinnitus. – While there is no cure for tinnitus, some scientists believe there is a correlation between serotonin depletion (which can lead to depression, anxiety, and insomnia) and the severity of tinnitus. Tinnitus therapies combined with antidepressants have aided some veterans who are chronic sufferers of tinnitus.