Tinnitus Treatment Survey

August 18, 2008

Did you know that four out of ten of America's 23 million adults with hearing loss have not sought a solution for their hearing loss because they ALSO have tinnitus? (Source: MarkeTrak VII - Obstacles to adult non-user adoption of hearing aids (HJ, April 2007)).

In evaluating Google searches nearly twice as many people search on the term "tinnitus" versus "hearing loss"; so tinnitus is a big problem in America.

It is our thinking at the BHI that the presence of tinnitus among people with hearing loss serves as a key obstacle to people in not seeking the services of a hearing healthcare professional. If we can demonstrate that the hearing health industry provides significant benefit for hearing loss and concurrent mitigation for some people with tinnitus, then it is possible that the BHI can generate positive public relations, which could influence more people seeking the services of a hearing healthcare professional earlier in their life.

In collaboration with BHI advisor Dr. Richard Tyler of the University of Iowa we are first exploring tinnitus treatment practices in America. Dr. Tyler is an internationally recognized expert on tinnitus; he has recently edited The Consumer Handbook on Tinnitus (Auricle Ink Publishers, April/2008).

If you are an audiologist, hearing instrument specialist or otolaryngologist, we are requesting your completion of a short survey on tinnitus treatment at your practice at the following link www.betterhearing.org/tinnitus. We will analyze the results and publish them in the near future. Secondly we are devoting a section of MarkeTrak VIII (December/2008) to tinnitus in which we will assess tinnitus prevalence and customer satisfaction with current modalities including effectiveness of hearing aids in the treatment of tinnitus.

People with Diabetes Urged to Have Their Hearing Checked Regularly; New Study Finds Higher Incidence of Hearing Loss Among Diabetics

Patients with diabetes are more than twice as likely as those without the disease to have hearing loss, according to a recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) study. Overall, more than 40 percent of people with diabetes in the study had some degree of hearing loss.

"People with diabetes should ask their doctors to check their hearing. This should be routine," said Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., executive director of the Better Hearing Institute (BHI). "A hearing check can be invaluable in identifying diabetic patients with potential hearing loss, and giving them an opportunity to receive the treatment they need," To facilitate hearing checks, the Better Hearing Institute has designed a Quick Hearing Check to help people quickly assess if they have a hearing loss requiring a comprehensive hearing test by a hearing professional. The quick check is available online at www.hearingcheck.org.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, was conducted by researchers who analyzed data from hearing tests, administered from 1999 to 2004, to 5,140 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Its findings prompted investigators from the NIH to recommend that physicians encourage their patients with diabetes to have their hearing checked.

"For years, physicians who treat people with diabetes have regularly ensured that their patients receive regular vision check-ups," said Dr. William Luxford, BHI Board member and an Otolaryngologist at the House Ear Clinic in Los Angeles. "This important study underscores the need for physicians now to encourage each of their patients to get their hearing checked as well." Both vision loss and hearing loss are associated with diabetes.

Studies conducted by BHI show that people with untreated hearing loss have a lower quality of life and even earn less income than people with normal hearing or people who have treated their hearing loss by using hearing aids. Modern hearing aids that use digital technology can help most people with hearing loss.

Patients are five times more likely to have their hearing professionally tested if encouraged to do so by their own physicians, according to a MarkeTrak study conducted by Kochkin.

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