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 Office of Women’s Health (OWH) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in promoting National Women’s Health Week, which starts May 9. The effort is part of BHI’s campaign to promote hearing health during National Hearing and Speech Month in May.

“Unaddressed hearing loss is an under-recognized health issue that undermines quality of life. Hearing loss can negatively affect virtually every aspect of a woman’s life—from job performance to relationships..."

The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) announced today that it is joining the Office of Women’s Health (OWH) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in promoting National Women’s Health Week, which starts May 9. 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 may have a hearing loss and need a more comprehensive hearing check by a hearing professional.

In addition, BHI is encouraging hearing health professionals to organize hearing screenings in their communities; host health fairs; disseminate women’s health information; and publicize National Women’s Health Week in their practices and communities. A list of National Women’s Health Week events around the country is at http://www.womenshealth.gov/whw.

More than 13 million women in America suffer from unaddressed hearing loss. Hearing loss is one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in America today and in affects more than 34 million Americans, most below retirement age.

“Unaddressed hearing loss is an under-recognized health issue that undermines quality of life,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, Executive Director of BHI. “Hearing loss can negatively affect virtually every aspect of a woman’s life—from job performance to relationships—so it’s especially important that women and their doctors routinely address hearing health as they would any other women’s health issue.”

The vast majority of physicians don’t routinely ask their patients if they have any hearing problems. According to a BHI survey, fewer than 15 percent of people who received a physical exam in the last year said they received a hearing screening by their physician or nurse during that exam.

“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 women need right now.”

With modern advances in technology, up to 95 percent of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids—and their quality of life significantly improved, Kochkin added. 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.

Studies show that women –especially younger ones—are reluctant to get treatment for hearing loss, putting them at risk for depression and other significant emotional problems impacting their overall quality of life.

“Hearing health is an important component of women’s health,” Kochkin said. “Women assume many important roles in our society including assuming the safety and care of children. How well they hear affects how well they can communicate and manage their many responsibilities.”

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.

The 11th annual National Women’s Health Week, which starts on Mother's Day, May 9, is a week-long observance coordinated by the OWH to empower women to make their health a top priority. With the theme, “It’s Your Time,” the nationwide initiative encourages women to take simple steps for a longer, healthier, and happier life.

The message to women during National Women’s Health Week is to:
--Get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both each week.
--Eat a nutritious diet.
--Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings—including screenings related to hearing health.
--Avoid risky behaviors, such as smoking and not wearing a seatbelt.
--Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.

“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.”

For more information on why healthy hearing is important for women visit http://www.betterhearing.org.

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.

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Fabia D'Arienzo
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