Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Helping Loved Ones Hear Better This Holiday Season

Helping Loved Ones Hear Better This Holiday Season

Salt Lake City, November 16, 2010—Edison Stanford Hearing Center is urging families within the Utah County area to be alert for relatives and friends who seem to have trouble hearing this holiday season.

Hearing loss affects the ability of people to celebrate the holidays with family and friends, often leading to isolation and depression. Hearing loss is one of the most commonly unaddressed health conditions in America today. More than 34 million people in the United States have hearing loss—roughly 11 percent of the population.

“The holidays are a time to gather together with family and friends,” says Paul Lloyd, Edison Stanford Hearing Center. “But for friends and relatives with untreated hearing loss, the holiday season can be bittersweet. By staying alert to the signs of unaddressed hearing loss, and by encouraging those we love to address the problem, we can help them regain their quality of life and strengthen our relationships with them.”

There is a very easy, free and convenient way for people to check their hearing, or encourage loved ones to do so. The Better Hearing Institute (BHI) has made available a simple, interactive, online screening tool where families can check their hearing in the comfort and privacy of their own homes, at www.hearingcheck.org. BHI also has an online discussion forum and information exchange available at www.betterhearing.org, where people can join the dialogue on hearing loss and gain valuable support and information.
Hearing loss occurs at all ages. For example, among people aged 46 to 64, about 15 percent already have hearing problems. Sixty percent of people with hearing loss are below retirement age. Hearing loss can occur due to exposure to loud music or noises.

There is increasing evidence that people with certain medical conditions—such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, kidney disease, heart disease, and even vision loss—may be at an increased risk of hearing loss. And numerous studies have linked untreated hearing loss to a wide range of physical and emotional conditions.

According to a BHI study, family members play a critical role in whether loved ones address a hearing loss. More than half (51%) of new first-time owners of hearing aids said that family members were a key factor influencing their purchase. Fifty-five percent of new hearing aids users sought treatment once they realized through testing how serious their hearing loss was.

In the vast majority of situations, hearing aids can help a person hear better. Studies have shown that hearing aid wearers experience significant improvements in quality of life and decreased depressive symptoms; have significantly higher self-concepts compared to individuals who do not wear hearing aids; and their functional health status improves significantly after three months of hearing aid use.

"Many people decide to get their hearing checked because someone they love suggested it and provided support,” says Sergei Kochkin, PhD, executive director of BHI. “If someone you love appears to have a hearing loss, please urge them to get a hearing screening. With the BHI quick hearing check available at www.hearingcheck.org, it’s easier for people to take that first, critical step in reclaiming their hearing, quality of life, and relationships. What better gift can you give someone you love this holiday season?”

Signs of Hearing Loss

There are several social, emotional, and medical signs of hearing loss that people can watch for this holiday season:

  • require frequent repetition
  • have difficulty following conversations involving more than two people
  • think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling
  • have difficulty hearing in noisy situations, like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms
  • have trouble hearing children and women
  • have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume
  • answer or respond inappropriately in conversations
  • have ringing in your ears
  • read lips or more intently watch people's faces when they speak with you

  • feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying
  • feel annoyed at other people because you can't hear or understand them
  • feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying
  • feel nervous about trying to hear and understand
  • withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing

  • have a family history of hearing loss
  • take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs)
  • have diabetes, heart, circulation or thyroid problems
  • have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise
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To take the BHI Quick Hearing Check, visit at www.hearingcheck.org. To participate in the discussion forum, visit www.betterhearing.org, click on “Discussion Forum,” and go to “Welcome!” to register.

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Paul Lloyd is an Audioprosthologist at Edison Stanford Hearing Center in Salt Lake City Utah, and can be contacted at T: 1 (801) 485-5595, F: 1 (801) 467-1125, www.edisonstanfordhearing.com, e-mail: edisonhearing@hotmail.com.

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