BHI Raises Awareness of Link Between Hearing Loss and Certain Chronic Diseases During National Women's Health Week

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The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) is raising awareness of the link between hearing loss and certain chronic diseases during National Women's Health Week. BHI also is urging women to take the online hearing check, Across America Hearing Check Challenge (hearingcheck.org), which lets people quickly and confidentially determine if they need a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing professional. Research shows that people with certain chronic diseases—such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and Alzheimer's disease; as well as depression and emotional health, memory loss and cognitive decline—may all have an increased risk of hearing loss.

BHI supports National Women's Health Week, a weeklong health observance coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health. The 13th annual National Women's Health Week kicks off on Mother's DayMay 13, 2012, and is celebrated until May 19, 2012. National Women's Checkup Day is Monday, May 14, 2012. May is National Hearing Month.

More than 10 million women in America suffer from unaddressed hearing loss. And most are below retirement age.

"Unaddressed hearing loss can negatively affect virtually every aspect of a woman's life—from her earnings to her relationships to how she communicates with her doctor," says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, BHI's Executive Director. "And because hearing loss has been linked to several chronic diseases—as well as to an increased risk of falling—it is important that women and their healthcare providers routinely address hearing health as part of their medical care."

Hearing loss is one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in America today. In fact, 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, according to a BHI survey. Yet the vast majority of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids. And the family doctor still has the greatest influence over whether or not someone will purchase a hearing aid to address their hearing loss.

Through its outreach efforts, BHI hopes to raise awareness of the importance of hearing health among women, their healthcare providers, and their employers. BHI encourages doctors to screen for hearing loss as part of annual physical exams and encourages employers to include hearing health in their workplace wellness programs.

"Hearing health is an intrinsically important component of women's overall health and well-being," Kochkin says. "We hope that by participating in National Women's Health Week we can make a difference by helping women take appropriate steps to care for their health—including their hearing health." 

As part of its efforts to promote National Women's Health Week, BHI is encouraging hearing health professionals across the country 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 can be found at womenshealth.gov/whw.