Nearly 23 million Americans suffering from untreated hearing loss
BALTIMORE — Though an estimated 26.7 million Americans ages 50 years and older have hearing loss, only about 1-in-7 of them uses a hearing aid, according to a new study led by Johns Hopkins researchers that was released Monday.
Johns Hopkins experts estimate nearly 23 million have untreated hearing loss and suggest that their findings add clarity to less rigorous estimates by device manufacturers and demonstrates how widespread undertreatment of hearing loss is in the United States.
"Understanding current rates of hearing loss treatment is important, as evidence is beginning to surface that hearing loss is associated with poorer cognitive functioning and the risk of dementia," stated study senior investigator Frank Lin, who also is an assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Previous studies that have attempted to estimate hearing aid use have relied on industry marketing data or focused on specific groups that don’t represent a true sample of the United States population."
Lin noted that many with hearing loss likely avoid their use, in part, because health insurance often does not cover the costs and because people do not receive the needed rehabilitative training to learn how to integrate the devices into their daily lives. But another major reason, he said, is that people often consider hearing loss inevitable and of minor concern.
"There’s still a perception among the public and many medical professionals that hearing loss is an inconsequential part of the aging process and you can’t do anything about it," Lin said. "We want to turn that idea around."
To address the data gap, Lin and Wade Chien, also an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, used data from the 1999-2006 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a research program that has periodically gathered health information from thousands of Americans since 1971. During those cycles, participants answered questions about whether they used a hearing aid and had their hearing tested.
Their new findings, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine online Feb. 13, showed that only about 1-in-7 individuals ages 50 years or older, or 14%, use hearing aids. Although hearing aid use rose with age, ranging from 4.3% in individuals ages 50 to 59 years to 22.1% in those ages 80 years and older. Overall, another 23 million could possibly benefit from using the devices, Lin said.
Lin and his colleagues currently are leading a study to investigate the effects of hearing aids and cochlear implants on the social, memory and thinking abilities of older adults, he reported.
CMPI survey: 61 million workers avoided missing work, thanks to cough medicine
NEW YORK — Results of a new survey released Thursday by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest found that the majority of adult consumers and parents in the United States rely on over-the-counter cough medicines: 68% of adult consumers agreed that OTC cough medicines allow them to stay productive at work and school, and 60% of parents reported that these medicines allowed their children to stay productive at school.
From that survey, CMPI determined that as many as 61 million consumers in the past 12 months have avoided missing work, school or other scheduled appointments and 8.5 million households in the past 12 months have children ages four or older who have avoided missing school or daycare due to illness because their parents had access to OTC cough medicines to manage their symptoms.
“OTC cough medicines empower consumers to take control of their own healthcare, and offer families a vital option for cost-effective treatment that is available in real-time when illness strikes, especially during cough and cold season,” stated Robert Goldberg, CMPI VP. “This research is an indicator of what consumers want — they want convenient and affordable access to the medicines they trust to treat their symptoms — and their family members’ symptoms — and get them back to school or work without the hassle of having to see a doctor or take time off.”
The Cough Medicine Consumer Insights National Survey — a telephone survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older — offers key insights into consumer preferences during cough and cold season, and revealed American parents and adult consumers rely on OTC cough medicines as a first-line defense to treat symptoms in both their children and themselves.
Over the previous 12 months surveyed, more than half of adults (57%) reported taking OTC cough-cold medicines and 71% of parents had administered these medicines to their children older than age 4 to alleviate symptoms.
Consumers believe continued education is the most effective way to ensure appropriate OTC cough medicine use. The majority of adult consumers surveyed (87%) believe OTC cough medicine packages provide the necessary information to ensure appropriate use, and 85% said educating parents about the appropriate use and storage of medicines is the most effective way to ensure appropriate use.
While 94% of surveyed adults agreed that they “know what medicines are in my home and how much of each I have,” only 74% agreed that “medicines in my home are in a place where my children cannot access them” — pointing to the need for ongoing education about safe monitoring, storage and disposal of OTC medications in the home, particularly homes with young children and teenagers.
“Consumers recognize that continued education is one of the best ways to ensure these medicines are used appropriately," Goldberg said. "Purchasers of these products who have children at home should keep these — and all medicines — in a safe, secure place."
To read the key findings from the Cough Medicine Consumer Insights National Survey and the full presentation, click here.
Insulet, LifeScan ink deal
BEDFORD, Mass. — Insulet and LifeScan have entered a partnership through which the latter’s OneTouch blood-glucose monitoring technology will be integrated into the former’s OmniPod Personal Diabetes Manager.
The nonexclusive worldwide agreement, which has an initial term that will run through 2017, will involve LifeScan providing its glucose monitoring technology to Insulet, who will be responsible for the development, design and approval of the integrated device. Insulet, however, maintains an exclusivity option to be declared, at its discretion, upon commercialization of the integrated PDM. This option would make LifeScan the exclusive blood-glucose monitoring technology integrated into the OmniPod PDM and provide additional compensation to Insulet.
"The easy to use, tubeless OmniPod is the most innovative technology available in the insulin pump market, so we are thrilled to integrate with LifeScan’s market leading OneTouch blood-glucose monitoring technologies," Insulet president and CEO Duane DeSisto said. "Our team has commenced development efforts on a new PDM which we expect to be commercialized in 2013. The new integrated PDM will work with the next generation OmniPod, which is currently awaiting 510(k) clearance."