Better Hearing Institute Joins HHS, Office on Women's Health in Promoting National Women's Health Week and Hearing Health

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The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) announced today that it is joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Women's Health (OWH), in promoting National Women's Health Week, which kicks off May 10th. The effort is part of BHI's campaign to promote hearing health during National Hearing and Speech Month in May. BHI is offering an online hearing test, the Across America Hearing Check Challenge (http://www.hearingcheck.org), where people can quickly assess if they need a more comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.

Unfortunately, too many wait years, even decades, before getting treatment, becoming more and more disconnected as time goes by. We hope that by joining with the HHS Office of Women's Health to promote National Women's Health Week we can help women take appropriate steps to care for their health--including their hearing health. We hope our efforts make a difference.

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) announced today that it is joining the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Women's Health (OWH), in promoting National Women's Health Week, which kicks off May 10th. The effort is part of BHI's campaign to promote hearing health during National Hearing and Speech Month in May. BHI is offering an online hearing test, the Across America Hearing Check Challenge (http://www.hearingcheck.org), where people can quickly assess if they need a more comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.

Hearing loss is one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in America today and affects more than 31.5 million Americans, most of whom are below retirement age. Roughly 40 percent of those suffering from hearing loss are women; and only 24% use hearing aids to treat their hearing loss.

"Tough economic times put added stress on everyone," says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, Executive Director of BHI. "So it's especially important, now, that women take care of their health. Unaddressed hearing loss is an under-recognized health issue that undermines quality of life. It can negatively affect virtually every aspect of a woman's life."

Numerous studies, in fact, have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions, including irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, avoidance or withdrawal from social situations, social rejection and loneliness, reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety, impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced job performance and earning power, and diminished psychological and overall health.

Unfortunately, only 12 percent of physicians today ask patients if they have any hearing problems. And despite the fact that hearing aids hold such great potential to positively change lives, only one in five people who could benefit from hearing devices currently wear them.

"Hearing loss leads to stress and fatigue because it requires so much effort to listen to what someone is saying," says Kochkin. "More stress is the very last thing that anyone needs right now."

The good news is that with modern advances in technology, there are solutions for many people with hearing loss. In fact, 90 to 95 percent of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids--and their quality of life significantly improved. A BHI survey of more than 2,300 consumers found that nine out of ten hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life as a result of using a hearing aid.

"Hearing health is an important component of women's health," Kochkin continues. "Not only does it affect their quality of life and well being, but it also affects how well they communicate with their healthcare providers about other health problems that they may face. What's more, women assume many important roles in our society. How well they hear affects how well they can communicate and manage their many responsibilities."

The 10th annual National Women's Health Week kicks off on Mother's Day, May 10, and BHI is encouraging women across America to take part. National Women's Health Week is a weeklong health observance coordinated by the OWH and is dedicated to educating women about steps they can take to improve their health, reduce their risk for many diseases, and live longer, healthier, and happier lives.

BHI is encouraging hearing health professionals across the country to join OWH in celebrating National Women's Health Week by organizing hearing screenings in their communities; hosting health fairs; disseminating women's health information; reaching out to the media in their local communities; and publicizing National Women's Health Week in their practices and communities. For a list of National Women's Health Week events around the country, people can visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/whw.

"Despite the far-reaching impact hearing loss has on so many aspects of a woman's life, many who are already aware that their hearing has deteriorated are reluctant to seek help," Kochkin continues. "Unfortunately, too many wait years, even decades, before getting treatment, becoming more and more disconnected as time goes by. We hope that by joining with the HHS Office of Women's Health to promote National Women's Health Week we can help women take appropriate steps to care for their health--including their hearing health. We hope our efforts make a difference."

Founded in 1973, The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss to benefit from proper treatment. To receive a free copy of BHI's 28 page booklet "Your Guide to Better Hearing," visit its website at http://www.betterhearing.org or call the Better Hearing Institute hotline at 1-800-EAR-WELL.

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Fabia D'Arienzo
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