May is, decidedly, a great month for health awareness. Not only is it the Better Hearing Month, but the week of May 9 – 15 of this year also marks the annual observance of National Women's Health Week.
Coordinated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health (OWH), this nationwide initiative encourages women of all ages to follow simple but important steps toward a better all-around health.
Take advantage of these two very important overlapping events to get as healthy as you can, and, while you are at it, don't forget to take care of your hearing.
If You Are A Woman...
...you know you are predisposed to certain health conditions and diseases that can impact your overall well-being, as well as your longevity. So don't let the National Women's Health Week go by without taking some kind of pro-active steps, starting with testing and screening for breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases (the risks of which increase in post-menopausal women).
Not sure where to start? OWH recommends the following steps, which are essential to the early detection of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health illnesses, sexually transmitted infections, and other conditions:
- Contact your doctor or nurse to schedule checkups and screening services;
- Use the interactive screening chart and immunization tool to learn what screenings and immunizations you need and at what age;
- Discuss with your health care professional which of the tests are right for you, when you should have them, and how often;
- Schedule an appointment for at least one of the preventive health screenings during May 2010.
Yes, But What About The Ears?
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We are glad you asked because you can't be truly healthy if you suffer from undetected or untreated hearing loss.
In a statement issued last month, Better Hearing Institute (BHI) said that more than 13 million women (out of 34 million Americans) suffer from unaddressed hearing loss.
"Unaddressed hearing loss is an under-recognized health issue that undermines quality of life," says Sergei Kochkin, BHI's Executive Director. "Hearing loss can negatively affect virtually every aspect of a woman's life—from job performance to relationships—so it's especially important that women and their doctors routinely address hearing health as they would any other women's health issue."
The alarm has been sounded loud and clear, but unfortunately many women don't heed this advice. A major study focusing exclusively on hearing in women, carried out several years ago at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, showed that a great number of women don't include hearing test as part of their healthcare routine.
One of the reasons, according to study authors, may be that women, especially younger ones, attach more stigma to hearing loss than men do and are reluctant to get treatment.
Unfortunately, the same research suggests that women whose hearing is untreated have a greater risk of depression and other emotional problems, which include, according to BHI, negativism, anger, fatigue, tension, stress, depression, avoidance or withdrawal from social situations, social rejection and loneliness, reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety, impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks, reduced job performance and earning power, and diminished psychological and overall health.
All that goes to prove, as Kochkin puts it, that "hearing health is an important component of women's health. Women assume many important roles in our society including the safety and care of children. How well they hear affects how well they can communicate and manage their many responsibilities."
Now That You Know The Facts...
...don't just sit there, take action! If you suspect you may have hearing loss, get tested – after all, you DON'T want your inability to hear well to negatively impact your quality of life, safety, and earning power, do you?
If it turns out that you do have a hearing loss, follow the hearing professional's advice on the best type of hearing aids for your condition.
Of course, good hearing is just a part (albeit a very important one) of your overall health. Before the month of May turns into June, commit yourself to taking these simple yet life-altering steps the OWH recommends for a longer, healthier, and happier life:
- Getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate physical activity,1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity, or a combination of both each week
- Eating a nutritious diet
- Visiting a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventive screenings
- Avoiding risky behaviors, such as smoking and not wearing a seatbelt
- Paying attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.
May is an extraordinary month - awareness of better hearing and improving women's health. Take control of your health; take control of your hearing. Find a hearing aids professional today who can get you started on the path towards healthier hearing.