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Hear Your Best and Look Great at the Same Time

Miss America Shares Seven Reasons to Get Your Hearing Checked

A Greek philosopher once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Unfortunately, for one out of 10 of us, two ears are not always enough to hear what others are saying.

Whether due to the normal aging process, excessive noise, genetic defect, or some other reason, one in 10 Americans today has a hearing loss. And studies find that when people cannot hear one another, every part of their life, from job performance to sexual intimacy, may be affected. Over time, untreated hearing loss silently erodes a person’s overall quality of life -- often undermining family relationships, interfering with short-term memory, and causing loneliness and tension.
Former Miss America 2005 Deidre Downs, now studying to be a pediatrician, knows firsthand what it’s like to live with a hearing loss. As a child she compensated for her hearing loss but felt isolated. “It wasn’t until I started medical school that I realized I couldn’t deny it any longer. It was very hard to follow lectures in large auditoriums, interact with patients and professors (especially if they wore surgical masks). I realized that I finally needed to face my hearing problem and find a solution that would help me to be the best doctor I can be.”

Her solution was hearing devices that fit behind her ears, are nearly invisible, and utilized the latest digital technology. “Wearing hearing aids again gave me the ability to better participate in life, school, family, and friends,” says Downs. “My friends, family, and classmates no longer have to constantly repeat themselves. I don’t have to use closed captioning on TV anymore and I rarely miss pieces of conversations -- even in noisy restaurants. It’s been an unbelievable life change for me, my family, and my friends.”

Deidre Downs is on a mission to encourage the millions of Americans with untreated hearing loss to take the first step and get their hearing checked. She’s joined with the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) as a national spokesperson to promote healthy hearing.

To see if you have a hearing loss, the BHI has developed a simple, Internet-based screening check that individuals, couples, and families can use in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. By visiting www.hearingcheck.org, Americans can take a quick, easy test to see for themselves if they have a hearing loss.

“Anyone who thinks that wearing hearing devices will interfere with their looks, just needs to take one look at Deidre Downs,” says BHI Executive Director Sergei Kochkin, PhD, who thinks that Miss America’s involvement will send a loud and positive message to people who might have qualms about wearing hearing devices.

Downs offers seven reasons everyone should get their hearing checked:

1. Hearing loss can strike at any time and at any age. Of the 31.5 million Americans with hearing loss, 65 percent are below retirement age.

2. Hearing loss affects more than one in four American families and one in 10 Americans.

3. The signs of hearing loss usually emerge slowly and are often first noticed by others. Many of today’s baby boomers suffer hearing loss from listening to loud music or living in noisy environments.

4. Studies show that unaddressed hearing loss can cause irritability, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, social withdrawal, rejection, memory loss and loneliness.

5. Untreated hearing loss negatively affects household income, on average, up to $23,000 per year depending on the degree of hearing loss. But the use of hearing instruments mitigates the effects of hearing loss on income by about 50 percent.

6. A Brandeis University study of twins, published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, shows that genes play a significant role in hearing loss experienced by baby boomers and their parents.

7. Ninety to 95 percent of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids -- and their quality of life significantly improved. Modern hearing aids are sleek and usually cannot even be easily seen.

The good news is that with today’s sophisticated hearing devices, you can hear great and look great too. Visit www.BetterHearing.org for more information. (ARA)

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