By Jordan Conole
On February 11th, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), the nation’s largest nonprofit funder of hearing and balance research, hosted a public seminar on hearing health and hearing loss in at the Central Library in Downtown San Diego.
Event attendees included members of the public, scientists and researchers, many of whom have devoted their careers to finding a cure for hearing loss.
Ronna Hertzano, M.D., Ph.D., a surgeon at the University of Maryland Medical Center, spoke about the need for change in the way we treat hearing loss, noting, “Just as a doctor would now take a patient with elevated or slightly higher blood pressure seriously, we must do just the same with hearing.” Dr. Hertzano claimed that those who experience hearing loss oftentimes can suffer from loneliness and feelings of isolation.
According to a recent study by the National Aging Committee, more than 11% of those with some form of hearing loss suffer from depression compared to only 5% of the general public.
Dr. Harrison Lin, a scientist funded by HHF’s Emerging Research Grants program, and colleagues discovered that of the 48 million Americans who report experiencing some form of hearing loss, only about one-third of those actually seek out treatment.
Ken Knoblett, a San Diego resident who counts himself as part of that third, noticed a drastic change in his interactions with friends and family once he began to use hearing aids. “I was immediately able to be more connected to my friends and family and enjoy gatherings again. The hearing aid and treatment really changed my life for the better!”
Based on the strong connection to hearing loss and its strong emotional side effects, testing for hearing loss and treating it is the best way to combat and prevent its underlying side effects.
Hearing loss is an isolating condition for hundreds of thousands of Americans, but the scientists working for HHF hope to someday end that isolation.
Jordan Conole is a freelance journalist who covers San Diego local nonprofits and charity events in the surrounding areas.