Pledge

Eight Reasons to Get Your Hearing Checked This May

By Elizabeth Thorp

Did you know that nearly 50-million Americans have some sort of hearing loss? I'm one of them—I was born deaf in my left ear from genetic nonsyndromic senorineural hearing loss.

Hearing loss is actually the country's most common birth defect. In fact, two to three of every 1,000 children born in the United States are deaf or hard-of-hearing. And ninety percent of those kids have parents who can hear, like me. I wasn't fully diagnosed until I was a teen.

Perhaps even more interesting, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says that only 20% of the staggering number of people who could benefit from hearing aids are actually using them. Hearing research and technology have made huge leaps and bounds since I was a child, and the 40-million people not taking advantage of them are missing an opportunity to hear much better.

So in honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month—which continues through the end of May—here are eight reasons to get a hearing check now:

1. You've probably noticed a hearing problem already but done nothing about it. Don't worry, you're not alone. People generally wait seven to ten years between the time that they notice a hearing problem and the time they actually make an appointment with an audiologist or ENT.

2. Even if you've had regular physicals and appear to be in good health, you could have a hearing issue. Only 16% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss.* Since a hearing exam is not a standard part of most examinations, you typically have to make a separate appointment—and you may not have known to do so since many general practitioners don't suggest it.

3. If you are a recent veteran, chances are your hearing was damaged during your service. 60% of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan come home with hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

4. Hearing loss can cause learning delays, and your child might be among the 20% of preschoolers to fail a hearing screening*, but the earlier the problem is caught, the better.

5. Hearing loss can lead to depression and social isolation—it can affect nearly every aspect of your life. Treating hearing loss can help people re-engage with their communities and even be able to stay more involved with their families.

6. A recent study out of Johns Hopkins showed that people with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia—a likelihood that increases with the severity of the hearing loss. Researchers are still searching for reasons for this correlation, but one hypothesis is that the isolation and depression caused by untreated hearing loss may contribute to cognitive decline. It's possible that, by treating hearing loss, we may be able to stave off dementia.

7. One in five teenagers now has a hearing loss. The supposition is that this is caused by toxic levels of noise from mp3 players. While parents have for years been encourage their teens to turn the music down (listening at maximum volume for more than 15 minutes a day can cause a permanent hearing loss!), it's also important to ask if they're having trouble hearing and get their hearing checked.

8. If you pledge to get your hearing checked, you can help the Hearing Health Foundation raise money. For each online pledge up to 10,000, healthyhearing.com will donate a dollar to the Hearing Health Foundation to help fund hearing research. And a bonus: the Foundation will help you find local audiologist and otolaryngologist and provide information about what questions you should be asking when you visit.

Elizabeth Thorp is a family travel expert and writer. She is the founder of Poshbrood, a curated catalog of mom-tested, upscale, family-friendly vacation properties. She has been navigating public affairs and communications in Washington for 20 years. Elizabeth lives in Bethesda with her husband, Almus, and three young daughters Isabelle, Lucy, and Penelope.

*Statistic provided by Center for Hearing and Communication, from data collected in New York City.

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Hearing Health Foundation Announces "Pledge for Hearing Health"

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HEARING HEALTH FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES
“PLEDGE  FOR HEARING HEALTH”

Occurring in Conjunction with National Better Hearing & Speech Month

New York, NY (May 1, 2013)—In honor of Better Hearing and Speech Month this May, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF), a non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for hearing loss through innovative research, has launched a campaign to encourage individuals to pledge online to get their hearing, or a loved one’s hearing, tested. To take the pledge, please visit: http://hhf.org.

Nearly 50 million Americans experience hearing loss, yet the average person has trouble hearing for seven to ten years before having their hearing tested by a hearing healthcare professional. HHF will provide resources to help those taking the pledge find local hearing healthcare professionals as well as topics to discuss with their providers. In addition, for every person who takes the pledge, HeathyHearing.com, a leading online resource for hearing health, will donate $1 to HHF to support groundbreaking research to prevent and cure hearing loss.

Also joining Hearing Health Foundation as partners in this initiative are the four major professional hearing associations: Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), American Academy of Audiology (AAA), American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

“We are thrilled to have the support of all these incredible organizations, uniting together to support a very important health initiative,” said Andrea Boidman, Executive Director of Hearing Health Foundation. “Nearly every single person is affected one way or another by hearing loss. While our Hearing Restoration Project works to find a cure for hearing loss, our goal is to make hearing health a national priority. There are so many treatments available to help people hear better, and we want to encourage Americans to have their hearing tested and speak with a hearing healthcare provider about what options are available.”

"Most people have their teeth and eyes checked every year, but neglect to check their hearing. Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in America behind high blood pressure and arthritis," said Paul Dybala, Ph.D., President of HealthyHearing.com. "We wanted to support this initiative with Hearing Health Foundation to encourage people to visit a hearing care professional to get their hearing checked regularly."

As people often delay treating hearing loss, HHF notes several critical reasons to have your hearing tested, including:

  • Only 16% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss.

  • 20% of preschoolers fail hearing screenings.

  • 72% of people attending senior centers fail the hearing screening.

  • People with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia; the likelihood to develop dementia increases with the severity of the hearing loss.

  • Hearing loss can lead to depression and social isolation.

In 2011 Hearing Health Foundation launched the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), a consortium of scientists working on cell regeneration in the ear. The goal of the Hearing Restoration Project is to find a biologic cure for hearing loss within the next ten years through innovative research surrounding inner ear hair cell regeneration. Most non-mammals spontaneously regenerate these specialized cells after they are damaged, which allow them to restore their hearing, but humans do not and the Hearing Restoration Project aims to understand why. The Hearing Restoration Project brought together a consortium of 14 senior scientists at leading universities around the country, requiring them to share data in order to find a quicker path to a cure.

For more information or to see how you can get involved please visit: http://hhf.org

About Hearing Health Foundation
Hearing Health Foundation is the largest private funder of hearing research, with a mission to prevent and cure hearing loss through groundbreaking research. Since 1958 Hearing Health Foundation has given away millions of dollars to hearing and balance research, including work that led to cochlear implant technology and now through the Hearing Restoration Project is working on a cure for hearing loss. Hearing Health Foundation also publishes Hearing Health magazine, a free consumer resource on hearing loss and related technology, research, and products. To learn more, subscribe to our magazine, or support this work, visit www.hhf.org.

Follow the Foundation on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/HearingHealthFn and like the organization on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/HearingHealthFoundation to stay current on hearing research, trends, technology and breakthroughs.

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