"More Americans than ever before are suffering with hearing loss. But we treat hearing loss like a neglected orphan in today's healthcare system," says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute.
Washington, DC (PRWEB) April 27, 2010
The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is launching a national effort to urge physicians and nurse practitioners across the country to include hearing health assessments as a routine part of their patients’ physical exams.
BHI is sending letters about the importance of hearing health to the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Physicians (ACP), the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The letters ask the organizations to urge their members to include hearing examinations as a routine part of physical exams.
BHI also is offering an online hearing test (http://www.hearingcheck.org) where individuals can quickly and confidentially assess if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional. BHI urges individuals to share this information with their healthcare professional and ask that it be included in their electronic medical record.
BHI’s outreach to the medical community will take place during May, which is Better Hearing and Speech Month, an annual recognition of the need to focus attention on hearing health.
“More Americans than ever before are suffering with hearing loss,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, executive director of BHI. “But we treat hearing loss like a neglected orphan in today’s healthcare system. We still don’t have a universal hearing loss screening program for children or adults. And the historical incidence of physician screening for hearing loss has been low.”
The number of Americans with hearing loss has grown to more than 34 million—roughly 11 percent of the U.S. population—according to a recent BHI study. Over the past generation, hearing loss among Americans has increased at a rate of 160 percent of U.S. population growth and is one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in America today.
According to the BHI survey, fewer than 15 percent of those who received a physical exam in the last year said they received a hearing screening by their physician or nurse during that exam, despite the fact that more than 95 percent of those with hearing loss could benefit from hearing aids.
Numerous studies 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.
Six out of ten Americans with hearing loss are below retirement age, which demonstrates that hearing loss can affect anyone at any time. But the effects of untreated hearing loss can be especially devastating for children. Even a mild hearing loss can have a negative impact on language competence, cognitive development, social and emotional well-being, and academic achievement.
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 then hearing aids of the past, and greater ruggedness for active lifestyles are common features.
BHI recently published, "Your Guide to Financial Assistance for Hearing Aids," a first of its kind publication that provides a comprehensive financial resource for people considering a hearing aid. The guide enables people to quickly and easily identify charitable foundations, private organizations, insurance plans, corporate benefits, and government programs that will help them access the hearing healthcare they need.
BHI also has published for consumers, "Your Guide to Buying Hearing Aids," which presents five distinct phases of the customer experience as it relates to acquiring hearing aids. For each of the five phases, there is a detailed, step-by-step breakdown of what every customer should expect when they visit a hearing care professional.
“Hearing health is a vitally important part of a person’s whole health and quality of life,” says Kochkin. “I urge all physicians to include hearing health assessments and discussions as part of their patients’ annual exams. And until their next annual appointment, I urge all Americans to take a quick and confidential online hearing test today, at http://www.hearingcheck.org, to determine if they need a comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional."
Founded in 1973, the BHI conducts research and engages in hearing health education with the goal of helping people with hearing loss to benefit from proper treatment.