Pros and Cons of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

man experiencing hearing loss in restaurant

Tommy McDonell used to have her aide take all her phone calls. The 67-year-old artist and retired educator couldn’t hear well enough to talk on the phone.

“The volume on my TV could probably kill the people next door,” she says of her neighbors in the retirement facility where she lives in Southern Pines, NC. Having multiple sclerosis makes her hearing loss worse. “If you test my hearing when my MS is good, then my hearing isn’t absolutely awful, but if you test me when my MS is having a bad day, my hearing gets worse and worse.”

Her hearing loss only adds to the difficulty in thinking her MS sometimes causes.

When she decided to get hearing aids, McDonell had two choices: the traditional route that requires a medical evaluation and buying through a licensed professional hearing aid dispenser, or the relatively cheaper, but still costly, direct-to-consumer option.

Those costs and hurdles are what led to the passage of a federal law in 2017 that designates a new FDA-regulated category for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. But OTC hearing aids, which will be approved to treat mild to moderate hearing loss in adults ages 18 and older, aren’t here just yet. The FDA has until August 2020 to publish proposed guidelines for OTC hearing aids.

After that, the public — including audiologists, doctors, device makers, people with hearing loss, or anyone else with concerns — will have time to weigh in before guidelines are finalized. Until then, and perhaps long after, the world of hearing devices might be difficult to navigate.

Why the New Label?

While an estimated 30 million Americans have hearing loss, only about one to three in 10 adults older than age 50 who might benefit from hearing aids use them. This matters because hearing loss can lead to social isolation, a decline in memory and thinking skills, and a higher risk for dementia. But hearing aids — the primary treatment for hearing loss in older adults — simply aren’t an option for many Americans.

A pair of hearing aids runs $ 5,600 on average — a cost that health insurance doesn’t typically pick up. In order to get the devices, people with hearing loss must have a medical exam to rule out the slim chance of a serious medical problem that is causing the hearing loss, or they must sign a waiver opting out of the exam. You can only buy hearing aids through an audiologist or a licensed hearing aid dispenser, who is authorized to test hearing and sell hearing aids.


The cost of the hearing aids covers these professional services and may include up to 4 years of follow-up at no extra cost. But hearing professionals usually contract with just a few brands. That means that choosing a hearing professional limits a person’s hearing aid choices, and changing audiologists as a result of location or personal preference could require a person to change hearing aids, too.

Due in part to these hurdles, once a person starts to lose their hearing, they wait an average of 7 years before they seek help.

“They’ve heard horror stories,” says Stavros Basseas, PhD, CEO of Sound World Solutions, a hearing aid maker. “They know the hearing aids are very expensive. They know they have to go through an audiologist, and the aesthetics play a role, too. Hearing aids indicate old age.”

McDonell’s first audiologist fit her with a $ 5,800 pair of hearing aids, but McDonell wasn’t crazy about them. “They didn’t seem to fit that well, and since they are so expensive, I was constantly worried they’d fall off my ears,” she says. Plus, she didn’t feel the audiologist herself was a good fit either, so she tried someone else. But the second audiologist only worked with a type of hearing aid that would cost $ 10,000 for a pair. McDonell decided to hold off.

Skipping the Middleman

Because OTC hearing aids weren’t available, McDonell’s only other option was something that falls between OTC and traditional hearing aids. They are direct-to-consumer, self-fit hearing aids. The makers of these hearing aids, which meet all the same FDA regulations as their more expensive counterparts sold from an audiologist’s office, save customers a trip to a hearing aid clinic by keeping hearing professionals on staff.

That way, the hearing aids are still dispensed through a licensed professional, but not an expensive middleman. This lowers costs for the device maker, and some of those savings are passed on to the end user.

“You can only buy online or over the phone via a specialist,” says Christian Gormsen, CEO of Eargo, which makes hearing aids and sells them direct to consumers. “We have professional audiologists on staff who support clients all over the nation.” Eargo hearing aids, he says, will never be sold at a drugstore or big-box store, where you might expect to find over-the-counter hearing aids in late 2020. (Sound World Solutions offers a direct-to-consumer hearing aid, too.)


Over the phone or online, buyers give specialists the same medical information that they would in an audiologist’s office and say they understand that this is a medical device and not suited for people younger than 18.

Direct-to-consumer hearing aids come with factory presets for hearing loss, ranging from mild to severe. Audiologists who sell hearing aids in their clinics say factory presets aren’t good enough. “A hearing aid that’s fit by a professional is fit to a prescriptive target based on scientific research so that the volume is set to how someone hears at those exact frequencies,” says Cynthia Hogan, PhD, an audiologist and director of the hearing program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

But, Gormsen of Eargo says, direct-to-consumer hearing aids do almost the same thing. They are pre-tuned to enhance hearing at the frequencies where, according to research, hearing loss most commonly happens at each level of severity. “It’s true that we don’t go in and individualize each one, but [professional fitting] is an ancient byproduct of a time 30 years ago when [hearing aids] really needed to be tuned,” he says. “The presets are based on data and set by experienced audiologists, so it’s how you would fit them in a clinic.”

Some direct-to-consumer hearing aids, such as Sound World’s, allow users to download an app and customize their device beyond out-of-the-box settings. “It’s a fitting software just like an audiologist uses, but it’s the end user that does it,” says Basseas.

McDonell opted to buy Eargo’s direct-to-consumer, self-fit hearing aids in lieu of the $ 10,000 option offered by her audiologist. At $ 1,450 to $ 2,550 for the three different models the online company offers, they were less than half the price of her first pair of hearing aids. She didn’t feel she was losing out on any support by skirting the typically required face-to-face visit with an audiologist.

“They are great on the phone. Their videos provide the best instruction. The website is easy to navigate. And if needed, they’ll talk to you online through Skype,” McDonell says. “I personally don’t feel any need to see anybody.”

Most important, the hearing aids work. “I can hear the heat coming out of the register,” she says. “I don’t think people with normal hearing can do that.”


Uncharted Waters

Direct-to-consumer hearing aids ease some of the cost and access problems that led a team of researchers to recommend that the FDA create the new over-the-counter hearing aid category. They called for more affordable devices that would put control in the user’s hands — control over both the settings of the device itself and their choices.

With official FDA-approved OTC hearing aids still at least a year away, the FDA warned companies in a letter not to call their devices OTC hearing aids prematurely. Not all companies heeded the warning. So, buyers should beware that any device currently labeled as an OTC hearing aid has not been evaluated by the FDA.

“At the moment, there are no OTC hearing aids. If someone labels them as such, that violates the law. There are no official regulations that define OTC hearing aids yet,” says Paul Kileny, PhD, an audiologist and director of Michigan Hearing at the University of Michigan. “Anything you buy that is labeled as an OTC hearing aid is not.”

Then what are all those devices that look like hearing aids that you can already buy at Walmart, Best Buy, and other box stores and drugstores? No matter what the package calls them — and you will see many different names — any hearing devices that you can buy now over the counter, without a specialist, are personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. They’re not regulated by FDA, and the device makers are not supposed to market them for hearing loss. They might instead market them for birdwatching or spying — activities in which even a person with normal hearing would want to turn up the volume on the sounds around them.

They range in price — from less than $ 10 to nearly $ 1,000 — as well as in quality, performance, and how well users can program them. Research shows that some perform nearly as well as traditional hearing aids, while others leave the user worse off than without any assistive device at all. Some can’t filter out background noise, raising the volume equally on all the sounds around you, not just the ones you want to hear.


Market Need?

It’s still anybody’s guess as to where an OTC hearing aid will fit into this market. Will it be better than a PSAP but not as good as a traditional hearing aid? Will it simply be a PSAP — with all its variability in price, quality, and performance — under a new, more credible name? Or will it be just like a traditional hearing aid without the assessment and support of a hearing professional?

“For people to provide it at a more accessible price point, the easiest thing and the most expensive thing to cut out is the support,” says Eargo’s Gormsen, whose company will not offer an OTC option.

Sound World, whose PSAP, alongside those of Soundhawk and Etymotic BEAN, performed nearly as well as traditional hearing aids in studies, says its direct-to-consumer hearing aid, PSAP, and forthcoming OTC hearing aid will differ in name only. “Our device is sold as a hearing aid, and the same identical device is sold as a PSAP. We intend to have the same device qualify as an OTC hearing aid,” says Basseas. “They’re identical devices in any way you look at them. I made them that way to prove a point. There’s no difference between the performance of these devices, only the way they are regulated.”

The quality of other forthcoming OTC hearing aids remains to be seen.

And hearing care professionals have concerns. First, a medical problem that needs to be addressed could be causing a hearing loss. Both audiologists and licensed hearing aid dispensers are trained to recognize these issues and show clients how to get the right care.

“If someone has an ear deformity, drainage from the ear, sudden hearing loss, dizziness, hearing loss in only one ear — which could be caused by a tumor on the hearing nerve — these are things that need to be investigated,” says Hogan. She echoes the concerns expressed by four hearing health care associations in a recent consensus paper they wrote in response to the coming OTC hearing aids.

But some hearing aid makers ready to get into the OTC market, including Basseas of Sound World, say audiologists who voice these concerns just want to protect their turf. “Based on this logic, you shouldn’t take OTC aspirin for fear it could be a brain tumor causing your headache,” he says. “Using this scare tactic, we stop people from using hearing aids as early as they can.”


What’s more, because so many people waive the recommended medical evaluation, the scientists who recommended the OTC category say there’s “no evidence that the evaluation or waiver of that evaluation provides any clinically meaningful benefit.”

Another concern among audiologists is that, given full control of their device, users will turn up the volume too high. “We don’t know that the volume is both [enough] to really help them the way it should and also at a safe level so that the consumer is protected against further hearing loss,” Hogan says.

This, too, is seen by some as turf defense and not a legitimate concern. “There is no documented evidence anywhere of this [type of hearing loss] ever happening,” Basseas says. “They are pushing restrictions on maximum volume on OTC hearing aids to protect their market.”

By the Numbers

15%: Percentage of U.S. adults ages 18 and older who have some level of hearing loss.

50%: Percentage of U.S. adults older than age 75 who have disabling hearing loss. For adults ages 65 to 74, it’s 25%; for 55- to 64-year-olds, it’s 8.5%.

2x: Men’s chances of hearing loss between the ages of 20 and 69, compared with women’s.

28.8 million: Estimated number of Americans who would benefit from hearing aids.

Find more articles, browse back issues, and read the current issue of WebMD Magazine.



National Institutes of Health: “Quick Statistics About Hearing.”

Tommy McDonell, Eargo customer, Southern Pines, NC.

Stavros Basseas, co-founder, Sound World Solutions.

Paul Kileny, PhD, director, Michigan Hearing, Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan.

Christian Gormsen, CEO, Eargo.

Cynthia Hogan, PhD, chair, Division of Audiology, Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Mayo Clinic.

Hearing Review.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia: “Longitudinal study of hearing loss and subjective cognitive function decline in men.”

Michigan Medicine: “The Lancet: One in three cases of dementia could be prevented by targeting risk factors from childhood onwards.”

Journal of the American Medical Association: “Personal Sound Amplification Products vs a Conventional Hearing Aid for Speech Understanding in Noise.” “Regulatory recommendations for OTC hearing aids: Safety and effectiveness consensus paper from hearing care associations.”

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Hong Kong FILMART: A Must-Attend Event for Global Animation Pros

The 23rd edition of the Hong Kong Intl. Film & TV Market (FILMART)

(March 18-21) wrapped last week, and the general consensus was that it has become a must-attend event for both Asian and Western exhibitors and attendees. With 880 exhibitors from 35 countries, including companies from many Mainland Chinese provinces, this week-long event attracted over 8,700 visitors and offered a great opportunity to meet and mix with Chinese producers, distributors and channels.

This year, the Hong Kong Digital Entertainment Association organized its sixth Animation Support Program, which has grown considerably over these past years.

The quality and innovation (see sidebar) shown in the projects from 40 animation studios is a testament to the efforts of many local mentors and training initiatives provided by this program, including instruction on business and technical skills tailored for animation companies. In addition to the local support for participation at FILMART, the program encourages participation in international competitions and exhibitions for start-ups and small animation enterprises from HK.

This year’s premiere animation-focused panel explored the question, “Will New Chinese-Foreign Alliances Shape the World Animation Industry?” This informative panel was sponsored by the Annecy Intl. Animation Festival and HKTDC. Speakers included Yann Marchet, founder of France’s Print the Legend; Joe Aguilar, CEO of Huayi Brothers’ Wink Animation; Louise Jones, VP of finance and business affairs at Toronto-based Guru Studios; and Zozo Zuo, producer at iQIYI Pictures, the film creation arm of China’s booming online video platform..

The speakers gave a spirited and insightful look at their past and present experiences working in Mainland China and HK. They painted a progressive and optimistic picture of making content with and for the Chinese market. Aguilar stressed that we must choose “who” the content is for, since scripts do not typically work for both western and eastern audiences without revision.

Aguilar pointed out that Wink’s Shanghai studio primarily produces projects aimed at the Chinese audience, while its Burbank studio uses Chinese directors and staffers to give notes on the global films. “It’s harder to please both East and West – you can try to make content that is successful in other markets, but you have to gear it to one side or the other,” said Aguilar. “Trying to be in the middle is just confusing for audiences.”

Among Wink’s high-profile international projects is Extinct, directed by David Silverman (The Simpsons Movie), for global markets. “The project originated in the West and was developed with Chinese dollars. Chinese talent was involved in the creation and production, so we hit the co-production qualifiers,” he explained.

iQiyi Pictures producer Zozo Zuo discussed her studio’s new Chinese-French project Spycies, which is directed by Guillaume Ivernel, veteran of the TV series and feature Dragon Hunters. She talked about the process of dubbing and adapting the movie for various markets. “We’ll change it slightly depending on the market and how they understand the story as storytelling styles are different in China and the West,” Zuo noted.

“At this point there are a lot of Chinese directors and writers who are trying to make their shows cross over,” noted Aguilar. “China is much more and futuristic than the West.” He pointed out that “cute” does really well and goes a long way in China as merchandising is very important. Aguilar also brought up the fact that in China, audiences believe that animated movies are just for kids.

Monkey King and White Snake were targeting young adults. If you look at the films that did well in theaters in China, word of mouth can really help attract audiences here,” noted Zuo. “With Spycies, we hope that the box office will be equally divided between Chinese and western markets. We make our movies for the Chinese market and global films for the west, but I don’t expect them to cross over. “

Jones pointed out that Guru’s hit Netflix series True and the Rainbow Kingdom was the studio’s first show for the Chinese market. “Our strategy has always been to create global brands,” she said. “When we were producing the first season, we were looking for a partner who would believe in and create a vision for the show. Our partners in China had the same love for it that we did. They tested the show with the kids in China. What was important for us was to maintain a profit share, so that if the brand becomes a hit, both companies are invested in the success of the show.”

In the 25 years that I have been visiting both China and Hong Kong, I have witnessed the immense growth in the animation and digital entertainment industry in both territories. I am excited as a citizen of the world to have had the opportunity to explore the commonality between our cultures. That bond of basic human desires has helped narrow the gap and transcend so many of the obstacles that previously made delivering successful co-productions and distribution deals seem so daunting. Markets and events such as the HK Filmart are successfully doing their part to make our industry and our world a smaller and more friendly place. As children and adults around the world enjoy the cross-cultural results of east-west co-pros, we can’t help but continue to see the value in getting along on the political playing field as well.

Chinese 2019 Box Office At-A-Glance

Rank Movie Title Gross
1. The Wandering Earth $ 692,560,33
2. Crazy Alien $ 327,598,891
3. Pegasus $ 255,294,677
4. Bumblebee $ 170,846,880
5. Captain Marvel $ 146,160,236
6. Alita: Battle Angel $ 132,607,678
7. More than Blue $ 120,106,278
8. Boonie Bears: Blast Into the Past $ 106,238,486
9. The New King of Comedy $ 92,796,953
10. Green Book $ 68,034,563
11. White Snake $ 66,652,781
12. The Big Shot $ 56,040,681
13. How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World $ 53,706,186
14. Once Upon a Deadpool $ 42,453,208
15. Escape Room $ 33,980,703
16. Fall in Love at First Kiss $ 25,765,510
17. Knight of Shadows: Between Yin and Yang $ 22,687,179
18. Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year $ 18,521,815
19. Natsume’s Book of Friends The Movie: $ 16,904,841
20. Integrity: $ 16,825,965

Source: 4/1/19


Each year, Filmart brings global entertainment professionals to the Hong Kong Convention Center in March.

HGC Ent.’s The Wind Guardians earned $ 17 million in Chinese theaters last year.

Spycies is one of the much-anticipated animated features produced by iQiyi Pictures.

Boonie Bears

Fantawild launches the sixth movie in the Boonie Bears series at AFM 2018.

True and the Rainbow Kingdom

Guru Studios has found new partners in China thanks to its hit series True and the Rainbow Kingdom.

Animation Magazine

Secrets of the Pro’s: Sore Throat Soothers

Jan. 3, 2019 — It’s sore throat season. While most of us muddle through with lozenges and hot tea, for others, the season is a threat to their livelihood. People who literally sing for their supper — or act, podcast, or speak — haven’t got time for the pain.

“Video game recordings are extremely strenuous,” says Chris Tergliafera, the voice behind the villainous Ultron Sigma in the video game “Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite.” “You have to yell, attack, and die in a multitude of ways — being burned alive, stabbed.” So, he can’t die of a sore throat.

Tergliafera, like most vocal professionals, doesn’t let a sore throat stop him from working. Here’s what the pros do when they’ve got to push through.

When Your Throat Is in Flames

When Tergliafera stepped into the recording booth to voice Ultron Sigma, he found a bottle of Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, or more simply Pei Pa Koa throat syrup. “The director explained that the actor who voiced the Hulk had been in the booth before me and used this syrup before any of his loud roars,” he recalls. They dubbed the syrup “Hulk Juice,” and Tergliafera gives it all the credit for getting him through 3- to 4-hour yelling sessions.

The active ingredient in the Chinese syrup is slippery elm bark, a common homeopathic remedy for sore throat.

“It’s all anecdotal, but I think [slippery elm] is thought to be anti-inflammatory,” says Gaelyn Garrett, MD, an otolaryngologist and senior executive director of the Vanderbilt Voice Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

The National Library of Medicine says slippery elm bark is “possibly effective” for sore throat. It may be a natural painkiller. Using scientific evidence, the Library of Medicine rates how well many homeopathic remedies work, using the terms “effective,” “likely effective,” “possibly effective,” “possibly ineffective,” “likely ineffective,” “ineffective,” or “insufficient evidence to rate.”

Read the label carefully on the bottle of Pei Pa Koa. Some newer versions may omit the elm bark. Other herbal cough and throat syrups contain slippery elm bark. So do some lozenges and Throat Coat tea, a favorite among vocal professionals.

When Acid Is to Blame

Many pro talkers and singers swear by ginger in various forms.

“Ginger ale soothes and cools a sore throat,” says voice-over artist Will Johnson, who co-hosts AARP’s “Perfect Scam” podcast with famous scammer Frank Abagnale (the subject of the movie Catch Me If You Can).

Opera singer Jennifer Holloway agrees. “For soothing and bringing down swelling, the best concoction is ginger tea,” she says. Last year, the singer performed 30 operas in cities all over Europe, Asia, and the Americas. “As most singers know, you don’t sing the job, you don’t get paid, so we all do what we have to do,” she says.

What Holloway does when she has a sore throat is “peel and cut up an entire knob of ginger. Boil it for 15 to 20 minutes, then pour the elixir through a strainer and add honey and lemon. Turmeric is also great in that concoction,” she says.

Voice actor Christy Fabbri also swears by a brew of ginger, honey, and lemon to help maintain the voice that has extolled the virtues of Rice Krispies Treats, Skechers Stretch-Knits, and Downy Wrinkle Releaser Plus in TV commercials. “It really helps me bring my voice back,” she says.

When the potion contains many elements, such as honey, lemon, and hot water, there’s really no telling which one (if any) is having an effect, Garrett says. Hulk Juice is based in a honey syrup and contains ginger and other herbs. One of those herbs, loquat, is also a common ingredient in herbal throat syrups, lozenges, and drops.

“If there are two or three things that a person is using to help a particular problem, it’s probably not an evidence-based treatment,” says Garrett. “There’s probably a lot of placebo effect in these things, which I’m OK with as long as it’s not causing harm.”

As for ginger, there’s some evidence that the root can settle an upset stomach, but there’s no conclusive evidence that shows it relieves any other maladies. “If acid reflux is the cause of the sore throat, ginger ale has been shown to settle a queasy stomach, but I think reflux is way over-diagnosed as the cause of throat or voice problems and lets us overlook whatever the real cause may be,” says Garrett.

When Phlegm Builds Up

Honey, says Johnson of “A Perfect Scam,” is “nature’s cough drop.” Singers and speakers like the way it soothes and coats the throat. There could be something to that. The National Institutes of Health says it’s a homeopathic cough suppressant.

“Some theories suggest that it can affect consistency of mucus,” says Garrett. “You want mucus to be as watery thin as possible.”

You might also keep mucus from getting too thick by laying off of dairy. “Stay away from dairy and alcohol, and drink plenty of water,” says singer-songwriter Michelle Malone, “to hydrate the throat and thin mucus.” All of these, Garrett says, can help break down mucus.

Staying hydrated is key, and that could be the simple secret behind the teas that everyone drinks to soothe a sore throat: They hydrate. “Have water with you at all times, and sip on it all day long,” says Garrett, “and if lemon helps you drink water, then I am all for it.”

Vocal pros go for hydration in all forms. Many prefer steam. “I put my face over a steaming bowl of hot water with a towel over my head for a makeshift steaming tent,” says Fabbri. Holloway, the opera singer, uses a handheld steam inhaler, to which she adds a little chamomile. Others just soak up the steam from a hot shower.

When a Scratchy Throat Needs S(m)oothing

Alcohol, on the other hand, dehydrates, says Garrett, whose location and area of expertise mean she works with a slew of country singers. “There are some old singers still around and doing quite well who swear by a swig of whiskey before they go onstage. Now there’s probably not enough alcohol in a swig that they’re getting dehydrated. They’re probably doing it for the relaxation of that performance anxiety and the throat coating.”

That’s why Tergliafera loves honey-based Pei Pa Koa syrup, aka Hulk Juice. “It’s soothing and coats the throat so that you don’t put as much strain on your vocal cords.”

Another throat coater that Garrett says the country singers hang their hats on — “We’ve heard it more than once: Eat a bag of greasy potato chips before you perform. I think they feel that the grease coats the throat.”

Though you probably won’t find scientific research to support the therapeutic benefits of a heavy dose of greasy potato chips, and certainly not a steady diet of them, Garrett says that’s OK. “People know what they like. Even if you ask a physician what they like to do for certain ailments, I think you’ll find that a lot of us will quote certain nonproven home remedies. If it works for you, and there’s no harm, I am fine with it.”


Gaelyn Garrett, MD, senior executive director, Vanderbilt Voice Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.

Chris Tergliafera, voice actor, Los Angeles.

Will Johnson, co-host, “A Perfect Scam” podcast, Tacoma Park, MD.

Jennifer Holloway, opera singer, Bethlehem, GA.

Christy Fabbri, voice actor, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Michelle Malone, singer-songwriter, Atlanta.

National Library of Medicine DailyMed: “Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa.”

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database: “Slippery elm.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Flu and colds,” “The Common Cold and Complementary Health Approaches: What the Science Says,” “Ginger.”

MedlinePlus: “Slippery Elm.”

© 2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Tennis Skills Decline Equally in Male, Female Pros

SATURDAY, Sept. 8, 2018 — With the U.S. Open championship set to conclude Sunday in New York City, a new study shows that male and female professional tennis players have the same rate of age-related declines in physical ability.

This was a surprising finding because men and women have different patterns of aging, according to the researchers at the University of Exeter in England.

The researchers’ analysis of data on first-serve speed and accuracy among 100 of the world’s top male and female players revealed peaks in power (about age 26) and accuracy (about age 28), followed by declines in both.

“We know men and women age differently, and wanted to test when these differences start to emerge,” researcher Ruth Archer said in a university news release.

“We know, for example, that women live longer than men, but have poorer health later in life. And studies in other sports have suggested women’s performances begin to decline earlier than men,” she added.

“However, we found remarkably similar patterns of performance decay in male and female tennis players,” Archer said.

“One possible explanation for this is that we studied a dataset of ‘outliers’ — people at the upper extreme of human capabilities,” she said. “Alternatively, selection may not lead to the evolution of differences at this age as they do later in life.”

The researchers also found that men serve faster, but less accurately, than women. In both sexes, accuracy tended to increase as power declined, according to the study published recently in the journal Behavioral Ecology.

More information

Tips on how to protect your health as you age can be found at

© 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: September 2018 – Daily MedNews

Ex-NFL Pros Push for End to Kids’ Tackle Football

By Mary Elizabeth Dallas

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 19, 2018 (HealthDay News) — A group of former National Football League greats — including Hall of Famers Harry Carson of the New York Giants and Nick Buoniconti of the Miami Dolphins — is urging parents not to let their children play tackle football until they’re at least 14 years old.

The group is instead endorsing a program called “Flag Football Under 14,” launched by the Concussion Legacy Foundation. The program aims to educate parents and young players about chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Sometimes called CTE, it is a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head, and has been detected in more than 85 percent of tackle football players studied over the past 10 years, according to the foundation.

“This education program for parents is inspired by the last decade of research on CTE, which has revealed that the best way to prevent CTE in football players is to delay enrolling in tackle football until 14,” Dr. Robert Cantu, the foundation’s medical director, said in a news release from the organization.

“We cannot overstate the absurdity of allowing 7-year-olds to receive 500 head impacts a season just because they happen to be getting exercise at the time,” added Chris Nowinski, the foundation’s chief executive officer who played football at Harvard University.

Young children with developing brains are more vulnerable to the effects of head trauma, which can lead to devastating consequences later in life. Having them play non-tackle, flag football can help protect their long-term health, and won’t hurt their chances of making it to the NFL one day, the football veterans advise.

The Concussion Legacy Foundation initiative comes on the heels of a new study published this week in the journal Brain that found that repeated head impacts — even in the absence of a concussion — can cause CTE.

“Based on everything we know about CTE, Flag Football Under 14 makes overwhelming scientific sense,” said the study’s principal investigator, Dr. Lee Goldstein, an associate professor at Boston University’s School of Medicine and College of Engineering. “We will never prevent CTE by focusing on concussions. Any meaningful prevention campaign has to focus on preventing all hits to the head, including subconcussive impacts.”


Many NFL greats didn’t start playing tackle football until they were 14 years old, including Jim Brown, Tom Brady, Walter Payton, Jerry Rice and Lawrence Taylor, according to the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

“To parents who want their children to experience football, they should not play tackle football until 14,” Carson said. “I did not play tackle football until high school, and I will not allow my grandson to play until 14, as I believe it is not an appropriate sport for young children.”

Buoniconti, a Dolphins linebacker, now suffers from dementia and has been diagnosed with probable CTE.

“I made a mistake starting tackle football at 9 years old,” Buoniconti said in the news release. “Now, CTE has taken my life away. Youth tackle football is all risk with no reward.”

Added former Pro Bowl Oakland Raiders linebacker Phil Villapiano: “I watched my teammate Ken Stabler [a quarterback elected posthumously to the Hall of Fame in 2016] deteriorate and die from CTE. At some point those of us who have had success in this game must speak up to protect both football players and the future of the game, and supporting Flag Football Under 14 is our best way to do that.”

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE: The Concussion Legacy Foundation, news release, Jan. 19, 2018

Copyright © 2013-2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

FDA Explains Pros, Cons of Permanent Birth Control

FRIDAY, Nov. 18, 2016 — Women need to carefully consider the benefits and risks of permanent birth control devices, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

The agency recently introduced labeling changes for one such device called Essure. It consists of flexible metal coils that are implanted into the fallopian tubes, which carry eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. Within about three months, tissue forms around the coils and blocks sperm from reaching the eggs.

Because the device is made with metal, women who are sensitive or allergic to nickel or other metals should be sure to let their doctor know about their allergy, the FDA said.

The labeling changes for Essure include a boxed warning and patient decision checklist to help ensure that women receive and understand the benefits and risks of the device in order to make an informed decision about whether to use it.

An important point is that Essure is not immediately effective in preventing pregnancy. Women have to use another form of birth control for at least three months after the device is implanted. After three months, women must have an X-ray to verify the device is placed correctly and blocking the fallopian tubes, the FDA said.

Typically, Essure implantation is done in a doctor’s office. The procedure doesn’t require an incision and can be done without general anesthesia.

There have been reports of serious complications, the FDA said, including: poking through the fallopian tubes or uterus; persistent pain after the procedure (including pain for weeks or months after the procedure); change in menstrual cycles; symptoms similar to those of allergic reactions; and symptoms similar to those in autoimmune diseases, such as joint pain and fatigue.

Some women with complications have had surgery to remove the device, the agency reported.

Another permanent birth control option is tubal ligation — having your fallopian “tubes tied.”

There are also long-acting reversible types of birth control such as the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant. Both last for several years or more, and are easy to use. If you want to become pregnant or want to stop using them, you can have the devices removed, according to the FDA.

Other types of birth control that women can consider include oral contraceptives, hormonal patches, vaginal rings, condoms and diaphragms.

“Whatever your choice in contraception, make sure you understand the risks and benefits of your options and discuss them with your health care provider,” an FDA news release advised.

More information

The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more on birth control.

Posted: November 2016

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America’s Petri Dish: The Pros and Cons of Legalization In the U.S.

Now Legal in Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon – the 10th Amendment and marijuana legalization have kept the petri dish of American democracy alive and well in the 21st century. Pleasing the majority while confusing the minority, constituents in each state voted their conscience and have now realized the freedom that is legalized recreational marijuana. […]

Some Tree Trimming Best Left to the Pros

SUNDAY July 17, 2016, 2016 — Trimming or removing trees should be done with caution, particularly near power lines, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says.

In many cases, such work is probably best left to the professionals. For instance, any tree work within 10 feet of a power line must only be performed by experienced and trained line-clearance tree trimmers. At least two people must perform the work and must be within normal voice communication range, the agency explained in a news release.

Always assume all power lines are energized. Contact the utility companies to find out if they need to de-energize and ground or shield power lines before tree work begins, OSHA said.

Power lines aren’t the only hazard facing tree workers, OSHA noted. The agency provided these additional safety tips:

  • Tree work should not be done in dangerous weather conditions.
  • Anyone using chain saws and other equipment should be trained. The equipment should also be properly maintained.
  • Protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, hard hats and hearing protection should be worn.
  • Trees’ forward lean, back lean, and/or side lean issues should be identified to determine the direction they will fall.
  • A retreat path to a safe location should be identified along with the proper amount of hinge wood to safely guide the tree’s fall.
  • Tree limbs should be examined for strength and stability before workers climb on them.
  • Tree trimmers working in high branches must use appropriate fall protection.
  • Workers shouldn’t climb trees with tools in their hands.
  • Precautions must be taken when trimming broken trees under pressure. The direction of the pressure must be determined. Then small cuts can be made to release it.
  • Extreme caution must also be taken when trimming trees that have not fallen completely to the ground or are lodged against another tree.
  • Workers should remain alert and never turn their backs on a falling tree.

More information

The International Society of Arboriculture provides more information on tree work safety.

Posted: July 2016

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Strength Training Tips From the Pros

Build muscle, burn calories, and get in shape with help from the experts.

A couple days of resistance training per week can lead to big changes in your body. It’ll strengthen your muscles and bones, give your posture a lift, and boost your mood. Strength training also stokes your metabolism, so you’ll burn more calories even when you rest. And it slashes your odds of getting injured.

Follow these dos and don’ts to get the best results.

Target every zone. Aim for 2 to 3 days of strength training per week. Be sure to work every muscle group, including your chest, back, shoulders, legs, arms, abs, hips, and low back, says Michael A. Clark, DPT, founder of the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Overlooking a body part can lead to muscle imbalances and posture problems.

Start light. If you’re a beginner, stick with light weights for the first 3 to 4 weeks. You may feel stronger after a few workouts, but just because you can lift heavier weights doesn’t mean you should, Clark says. Your body needs time to build enough strength to fend off injuries.

Focus on form. Follow Clark’s tips: Keep your feet straight — imagine yourself on skis. Align your knees with your toes. Work your abs — tighten your stomach muscles and pull your belly button in. Keep your shoulders back and down (avoid shrugging). And align your ears with your shoulders.

Add weight but use keep using good form. Start with one set of eight to 12 repetitions. Try to build up to three sets of 12 to 15 reps. Add more gradually. A good rule of thumb: When you can do 12 reps using good form, ratchet up the weight.

Take time off. “Strength training causes tiny tears in your muscle tissue,” Clark says. “When you rest, your muscles recover from the micro-trauma. It’s this tearing and repairing process that allows your muscles to get stronger.” Give yourself 48 hours between sessions and get plenty of sleep.

Don’t hold your breath. Keep breathing as you lift and lower your weight. Try to exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

WebMD Health

Cartoon Movie to Welcome 700-Plus Pros


Cartoon Movie 2016 — taking place March 2-4 in Lyon, France — is planning to see over 700 animated feature producers, investors, distributors, sales agents, video game companies and new media players from across Europe in attendance. The annual event, having its 18th edition this year, helps fund roughly 20 animated feature projects per year in the region.

Programming highlights for 2016 will include presentations of new projects from several acclaimed directors. In-production samplings will include first images for Richard the Stork by Reza Memari and Toby Genkel (Ooops! Noah Is Gone), Cinderella the Cat by Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri, Alessandro Rak and Dario Sansone (MAD Ent.); and A Skeleton Story by Alessandro Rak (The Art of Happiness).

Concepts in the works include mo-cap project Canaan from Tondo Films by Jan Bultheel (Cafard), Little Bastards from Rokyn Animation by Manuel Sicilia (Justin and the Knights of Valour, The Missing Lynx) and Old Man Coyote from Cinemon Ent. by Aron Gauder (The District). The Magic Mountain director Anca Damian is involved in both the rotoscope film The Fantastic Voyage of Marona from Sacrebleu Prod. and The Faun, a co-production with JPL films directed by Augusto Zanovello (Women’s Letters). Enzo d’Alo (Lucky and Zorba, Pinocchio) will also be there with his latest, The Prince of the City of Sand, from Iris Productions.

Organizers also report a record number of projects targeting teens and adults, at nearly 33%. These cover difficult topics such as child soldier in Angola (Another Day of Life, Platige Image), Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge (Funan, The New People, Les Films d’Ici), Iranian resistance (The Siren, Les Films d’Ici), adoption (The Khmer Smile, Animalps Prod.), the Angola civil war (Nayola, da Praca de Filmes) and fictional stories like Heart of Darkness (Les Films d’Ici) and graphic-novel inspired Mind My Gap (Studio Rosto).

Family comedies and kid-friendly films continue to be well represented, as well as adaptations from literature and comic books. But for the first time, a Canadian project will be presented following the success of last year’s Cartoon Connection Canada: Amoeba from House of Cool has already been opted by European broadcasters CBBC (UK), France Televisions, Walt Disney UK, YLE (Finland), Channel 5?s milkshake! (UK) and Canal+ (France). To date, Cartoon Movie has selected 55 projects, with 18 from France. Denmark and Germany each have five representative films, followed by Italy, Netherlands and Poland with three each.

Visitors can also take in the fifth edition of Cartoon Games on March 4, which consists of 20-minute “matchmaking” sessions for film producers and video game companies. Plus, the city of Lyon will be hosting a series of screenings of great European animations and personal appearances by iconic directors during the “On cartoon dans le Grand Lyon” festival organized by cinema network GRAC.

More information at

Cartoon Movie 2016

Cartoon Movie

Animation Magazine

Cell Phones and Children: Pros and Cons

What to consider before you get your child a cell phone.

If you have a child older than 5, you’ve probably already heard the plea. “Can I have a cell phone?” your child asks. Or, “Why can’t I have a cell phone?”

No doubt about it: Cell phones are a great way to stay in touch anytime, anywhere. But is your child old enough for one?

That’s a tough call for many parents, because it’s not just about the child’s age.

So if you — and your child — are having this debate, here are some considerations to keep in mind.


You can’t beat the convenience. If your child has a cell phone, you can call or text him about where he is and what he’s doing, and your plans.

You may also feel safer knowing where your kids are. And in an emergency, a cell phone can be crucial if your child needs to reach you — or vice versa.

That’s partly why many parents are buying their kids cell phones. Twice as many children have cell phones now as in 2004.

Most teens — 85% of those aged 14 to 17 — have cell phones. So do 69% of 11-14 year olds, and 31% of kids aged 8-10, according to a 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Kids may see having a phone as part of fitting in with their friends.

But there are also some potential downsides to consider.

Health Considerations


Cell phones work by using radio waves. That’s radiation (though it’s not like what you’d get from an X-ray or other medical use).

Does that affect health — especially if children start using them at a very young age, when their brains are still developing?

In 2011, an international study showed no link between cell phone use and brain tumors in teens and adolescents. However, the researcher pointed out that the people in that study didn’t use their phones as much as people do today.

Still, experts say longer studies are needed.

“It will take several decades to get conclusive evidence on this,” says Joel Moskowitz, PhD, director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. 

The FDA’s web site states that “the scientific evidence does not show a danger to any users of cell phones from radiofrequency energy exposure, including children and teenagers.”

There are ways to reduce your exposure:

  • Spend less time on your phone.
  • When you’re on a call, use speaker mode or a headset.


If your child takes her cell phone with her at bedtime, will she actually go to sleep or stay up and text?

Pediatricians are seeing growing evidence that cell phones, especially those that allow kids to text, can disrupt children’s sleep patterns. In a recent survey, four out of five cell-owning teens sleep with their phone on or by their beds, and teens who text were 42% more likely than those who don’t to keep their device close at hand at night in case they got a text.

Sleep is important for growing kids. As a parent, you can set rules around this. A phone can’t wreck your child’s sleep if your child doesn’t have access to it after bedtime.

WebMD Health

Physician Promotes Pros of Pot

Local physician and former UCSB Psychology professor Dr. David Bearman is calling on the federal government to fund research of cannabis-based medicines.
The rejection of Proposition 19 — which would have legalized various marijuana-related activities — has sparked debate about whether marijuana should be marketed for medical treatments. Bearman, who […]
Cannabis News – Medical Marijuana, Marijuana News, Hemp, Cannabis