3D Printing Making Waves with Hearing Aids

Sounds too weird to be true, doesn’t it? 3D printers emitting customized hearing aids? Why yes! This type of printing is making waves in the hearing aid industry, also known as additive manufacturing. This entails adding to a product layer by layer rather than cutting away at it with tools like lathes. It’s used in all sorts of industries but its use in the hearing aid sector gets the most attention because of its precision. Helping people hear better is the aim of this technology, which is important to the more than 35 million people in this country who suffer from hearing impairments. 3D printing develops hearing aids from scratch that provide a perfectly customizable fit. This technology isn’t really new, as it’s been used in the manufacture of hearing aids for quite some time. But, the process is attracting more attention as the technology gets better and better. The result is a big need to offer more efficient, better working hearing aids that use the very latest in technology.

A 3D scanner is a big component of the digitized process that helps to make an impression of the ear via special lasers that use up to 150,000 points of reference. With the hearing aid industry at $2 billion a year and growing, this has been propelled through the use of 3D printing and laser scanning, which all work together to automate the process, cut down on the time of manufacture and develop a customized unit. Digital cameras aid in the process to send the images to the technician, who can apply the scan to various geometric shapes and templates and form a mold. Several combinations and geometric patterns are chosen to ensure the best fit. The result? A resin shell that is printed and fitted with all the proper acoustic vents, electronics and other circuitry that can amplify sound. Within 90 minutes, nearly 70 shells or 50 molds can be created by the printers. This offers such a great increase in speed and efficiency that accuracy is not compromised. Each device is thus personalized for a more precise prototype and manufactured product.

Streamlined Efficiency

The exponential use of 3D printing and laser scanning is a big part of keeping up in all that. These automated machines reduce time and labor while boosting efficiency but they are not cheap. That being said, reduced manufacturing costs have yet to be seen. 3D printing is being touted for its streamlined efficiency on the factory floor, with an increase in production thanks to the fact that one hearing aid only takes a single day to create. Hearing aids made in this revolutionary manner, combining 3D printing and laser scanning, result in a customized fit for the wearer. Before, with traditional manufacturing processes, a person could experience an OK fit overall but it may have wiggles around in the ear a bit or just not felt quite right. Now, there is no room for error and what results is a perfect match. Increasing comfort with automated processes is at the heart of 3D printing – which is thought to only be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the benefits to the industry. Fewer mistakes are made in manufacture, another benefit to this technology.

Eat Fish, Dark Chocolate and Citrus to Stave off Hearing Loss as You Age

Fish, dark chocolate and citrus fruits are just a few of the super foods touted as being excellent  for your hearing health. Of course, many of these foods are also good for other systems of your body, but your ears form the main benefits. Don’t fall victim to a natural decline in hearing loss as you get older. Instead, incorporate a healthy diet to keep hearing damage at bay, even though you’re at risk as you age for succumbing to the effects of a lifetime of hearing damage due to noise and other environmental factors. Blend these health foods into your daily diet to enjoy the most positive impact on your hearing health.

Chocolate

Say what? Chocolate is good for you? Well, first off it’s dark chocolate that has all the real benefits, and second, chocolate may not be good for your waistline, but it’s certainly great for your ears. Thanks to all the zinc and other antioxidants dark chocolate boasts, your inner ears are protected against the most prevalent health threat to the aging population: hearing loss. Another way to get zinc if you want a quick fix is to have it in supplement form.

Going Bananas

Bananas for magnesium? That’s exactly what’s in bananas that makes them so healthy for you. Your ears in particular reap the benefits of this healthy snack, which can curb the devastating effects to your ear of all those loud noises you’ve been subjected to over the course of your life. Reduce your chance of succumbing to hearing loss by indulging in this tasty treat on your cereal or in your sandwich.

Broccoli Boost

While pretty much all fresh vegetables are good for you, fresh broccoli is tops when it comes to improving your hearing. You can easily enjoy the benefits offered by the vitamins present in this veggie, whether you like it steamed, raw or grilled. Broccoli’s vitamins work hard to fend off damage caused by free radicals to your ear tissue so no additional damage will occur. A side effect of eating broccoli is healthier skin and hair.

Try Some Salmon

If you’ve been craving a fish dinner, indulge yourself tonight. There’s no better way to fend off hearing loss as you age than by tapping into the potential of the many omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon and other similar fish. Not only will you ensure a healthy heart, you’ll also get some much-needed blood pumping to the ears, which is integral to ensuring healthy hearing.

Citrus Fruit Frenzy

It’s no surprise to you, probably, that the health effects of oranges and lemons certainly assist you in keeping the common cold at bay. But you may not have realized citrus fruits can pull double duty as an ear-healthy food. Those same immune system-boosting effects of vitamins C and E that fight off colds can also fight off infections of the ear. This is important because ear infections must be properly treated do they don’t cause long-term damage to the inner ear.

Capitol Idea: AuDvocates Take to the Hill to Advance the Audiology Patient Choice Act

As this reaches you, ADA volunteers are on Capitol Hill meeting with Congressional staff to secure co-sponsors for the Audiology Patient Choice Act, and to advocate for a Senate companion bill.

“Today we will attend more than 75 meetings with key Congressional offices to advocate for H.R. 5304, which if enacted, will provide better access to safe, efficient, cost-effective audiology services for Medicare patients across the nation,” said ADA President Brian Urban, Au.D. “The movement to models of care that allow patients to choose from among all qualified providers have been embraced by Congress, and we look forward to working with Congress to bring Medicare in line with best practices in the delivery of hearing and balance health care.”

ADA members have also had more than two dozen meetings with legislators in their home districts since the Audiology Patient Choice Act was introduced by Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA) on July 31. Additionally, more than 400 legislators have been contacted by AuDvocates using the Congressional Connect tool.

During the month of September, H.R. 5304 has also been publicly endorsed by the Louisiana Academy of Audiology, the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology, Salus University and the Scott Haug Foundation.

For more information, please visit www.18×18.org and contact your legislators now!

New Studies Link Hearing Loss and Depression

For people with hearing loss, it is more important than ever to begin keeping track of any changes in your thoughts or feelings. This advice comes after the researchers at a prestigious institute have found that there is a link and a correlation between people with hearing loss and people who suffer from depression. In [...]

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What Is Spatial Hearing Loss and How is it Treated?

The inability to distinguish spatial cues is known as spatial hearing loss. For example, if a person suffers from spatial loss of hearing, they would likely be unable to tell where a sound came from. They would also have a difficult time picking one person’s voice out of a crowd. People with this condition find [...]

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The Connection Between Music and Mood

Music therapy has been used for centuries as a way to restore energy, improve mood, and even help the body heal more rapidly. New research supports this–research illustrates that music can absolutely improve your mood, which leads to a general boost in your quality of life. University of Missouri researchers found that upbeat music is [...]

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What You Should Know About Made for iPhone Hearing Aids

Among smartphones, the iPhone stands out as an innovation leader. The latest innovation is a result of collaborations with several hearing aid manufacturers to create hearing aids and apps that are intended to work together. These are known as made for iPhone hearing aids. With made for iPhone hearing aids, users are able to adjust [...]

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