BHI Raises Awareness of the Link Between Hearing Loss and Some Chronic Diseases During National Men’s Health Week
Washington, DC, June 1, 2012 - The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is raising awareness of the link between hearing loss and some chronic diseases during National Men’s Health Week (June 11 – 17). Research shows that people with heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and/or Alzheimer’s disease may have an increased risk of hearing loss. Research also links hearing loss to a three-fold risk of falling among working-aged people (40 to 69), depression and anxiety, cognitive decline, and reduced earnings.
BHI also is urging men to get their hearing checked and to be fitted with hearing aids, when needed, to reduce the toll that unaddressed hearing loss can take on their lives. BHI has made available a free online hearing check at www.hearingcheck.org, where anyone can quickly and confidentially assess if they may have a hearing loss and need a more comprehensive hearing evaluation by a hearing healthcare professional.
“Hearing health is integral to a man's whole health and wellbeing," says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, Executive Director of BHI. "It affects his quality of life, relationships, family life, job performance, and even his earnings. And because hearing loss is linked to several chronic diseases, it’s important that men and their healthcare providers routinely address hearing health as part of their medical care.”
BHI hopes to raise awareness of the importance of hearing health among men, their healthcare providers, and their employers. And BHI is urging doctors to screen for hearing loss as part of annual physical exams. The institute is also encouraging employers to include hearing health in their workplace wellness programs.
Sixty percent of the 34 million people in the United States with hearing loss are male. And more than 15 million men in the United States suffer from unaddressed hearing loss. Yet the vast majority of them can benefit from hearing aids.
In a 2010 study, BHI found that people with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss. The use of hearing aids, however, was shown to dramatically reduce the risk of income loss and unemployment.
Because most doctors don't screen or ask their patients if they have any hearing problems—even during annual exams—it’s especially important that men take the online hearing check (www.hearingcheck.org), Kochkin emphasizes.
BHI reminds men that there are simple things men can do to protect their hearing. Listening to their MP3 players at no more than 50 percent maximum volume and wearing earplugs while at rock concerts, using power tools, and riding motorcycles are a few examples.
“Hearing loss remains one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in America today, despite the pervasive ramifications it has on peoples’ lives,” says Kochkin. “We hope our participation in National Men’s Health Week will raise awareness of the importance of hearing health and prompt men to seek help for their hearing loss.”
Men’s Health Week is celebrated each year as the week leading up to and including Father’s Day. Its purpose is to heighten awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. Men’s Health Week gives healthcare providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals an opportunity to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. For more information on National Men’s Health Week, visit www.menshealthmonth.org.
For more information on why healthy hearing is an important part of men’s overall health and quality of life, visit www.betterhearing.org.
More About Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids
Numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced alertness, increased risk of personal safety, irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, and diminished psychological and overall health.
Three out of four hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life due to wearing hearing aids. And studies show that when people with even mild hearing loss use hearing aids, they improve their job performance, increase their earning potential, enhance their communication skills, improve their professional and interpersonal relationships, and stave off depression.
Advances in digital technology have dramatically improved hearing aids in recent years, making them smaller with better sound quality. Designs are modern, sleek, and discreet. Clarity, greater directionality, better speech audibility in a variety of environments, better cell phone compatibility, less whistling and feedback than hearing aids of the past, and greater ruggedness for active lifestyles are common features.
About the Better Hearing Institute
Founded in 1973, the Better Hearing Institute conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss benefit from proper treatment. For more information on hearing loss, visit www.betterhearing.org. To take the “Across America Hearing Check Challenge,” visit www.hearingcheck.org.