June 7, 2007

New data from the Healthy Hearing survey illuminates the attitudes many Americans now have regarding hearing loss and hearing health care. The survey was conducted for Energizer Holdings, Inc, as part of Energizer’s contributions to May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month.

Nearly seven out of 10 respondents (67.1 percent) to the survey say they are concerned about experiencing hearing loss, but only 30 percent feel it is important to actually have their hearing checked. Furthermore, only 11.5 percent have had their hearing tested in the past year, which makes 88.5 percent overdue for a hearing screening.

The goal of the survey, which polled men and women aged 50 to 70, is to help educate Baby Boomers and older adults about the importance of hearing health by offering prevention tips online and through the media, as well as teaming up with select national retailers to host hearing screening events free of charge.

Another program goal is to encourage people to have their hearing checked, and inform them about the professionals who diagnose hearing loss. The survey found that more than 70 percent of respondents said they would consult an internist or family doctor about hearing loss, but only 44 percent said they would consult an audiologist, a health professional specifically trained to diagnose and treat hearing loss.

“Some studies have shown that only 14 percent of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss during a physical,” Dr. Michael Valente says. Valente is director of the Division of Adult Audiology at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Since most people with hearing impairments hear well in a quiet environment like a doctor’s office, it can be virtually impossible for a physician to recognize the extent of a patient’s problem. Without special training and an understanding of the nature of hearing loss, it may be difficult for a doctor to even realize that he or she has a hearing problem.”

Valente hopes that the Energizer Healthy Hearing program will help clear up many of the misconceptions people have about hearing loss, which the survey demonstrates. For example, 38.2 percent believe hearing aids will make them feel old, and 36.8 percent think wearing a hearing aid will be uncomfortable, when the reality is that hearing aid technology is so advanced, most digital hearing aids are virtually undetectable because of their small size.

“The results show that these common myths continue to play a large role in hindering the quality of life that people with hearing loss experience on a daily basis,” Valente said. “It’s critical for people to not only receive the proper information, but to learn about the new hearing technology available.”

The goal for Energizer and Dr. Valente, according to a statement from Energizer, is to help raise hearing loss awareness and educate people about the new technological advancements with hearing instrument batteries. Energizer has introduced perforated packaging for its hearing aid batteries that is easier and more convenient to carry and use. Energizer also continues to offer the Energizer® EZ Change®, a hearing aid battery dispenser that allows users to insert their batteries without having to handle the tiny batteries or tabs.

“We know it is often difficult for people to overcome the stigmas related to hearing loss, and we’re trying to set the record straight through this program,” Anne Bannister, director of marketing for Specialty Batteries at Energizer, says. “We want to educate people about hearing loss prevention, as well as provide solutions for others to manage their hearing health, so they can ‘keep going’ and live active, enjoyable lifestyles.”

As part of the Energizer Healthy Hearing campaign, the company is continuing its support of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), a non-profit organization comprised of hearing professionals and other leaders in the industry.  For more information about hearing loss and how to find an audiologist, go to asha.org.

Source: Energizer (www.energizer.com)