One in six people in the UK have a hearing loss. It is estimated 20% of the population will have a hearing loss by 2031. Hearing is an important form of communication; when this is affected you can find yourself withdrawing from conversations and social situations, which could lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Frequently turning up the TV volume, asking people to repeat what they’re saying and struggling to hear when in noisy surroundings, are signs of a hearing loss.
Hearing loss can be a slow and gradual process spanning several years. It can take a long time to recognise the signs of hearing loss, so when you do it’s important to have your hearing checked.
You can have your hearing assessed either by visiting your GP for an NHS audiology referral or by going directly to a private hearing aid dispenser. The audiology professional will assess your hearing levels and help you to decide on the next steps to help you hear well again. The earlier you can see a professional the better, as research shows that keeping people engaged and active by adopting hearing devices can significantly reduce age-related cognitive decline.
You should first mention any concerns about your hearing to your GP. They can ensure your ears are healthy and you have no wax blocking your ears. The GP can also refer you to an NHS audiology service.
Alternatively, you can visit a private hearing aid dispenser directly, without contacting your GP first. In most cases, your audiologist can provide a complete service from diagnosis through to technology provision and follow up appointments to discuss your progress and answer any questions as you go through your journey to hearing well and living well.
Visiting an audiologist will involve a physical examination of your ears, some questions about your health and lifestyle and a hearing test. The health and lifestyle discussion will help to ensure any options provided address your concerns.
Solutions to help you hear better can be a combination of communication advice, hearing technology and other assistive listening devices. The settings of any hearing aids provided will be tailored to your hearing level.
Together with your audiologist, you can agree which setting options you would like to try. You may prefer the completely automatic option, or opt for one with extra settings to be used in noisy places or to listen to music. You may find you prefer an option that includes connectivity to your mobile phone. If any technology is provided, the audiology professional will go through maintenance and use of any devices and can point you in the direction of a range of support services that may exist in your local area.
Don’t live in silence or isolation when, through a couple of appointments, you could be hearing well and living well again.
Find out more information on hearing loss and the support available:
Children may be born with hearing problems or develop them during childhood. Many children born with permanent childhood hearing impairment are detected through the Newborn Hearing Screen, meaning that help and amplification, usually hearing aids or cochlear implants, can be offered from a young age. Early intervention for children with hearing problems is known to reduce the impact a hearing loss can have upon a child’s development.
Temporary hearing problems can affect many children during childhood, with Glue Ear thought to affect up to 80% of children before the age of 10 years. Children with mild hearing difficulties may appear to have difficulties with concentration, mishearing or misinterpreting instructions, be reluctant to participate in group work or tire easily from the additional listening effort.
If there are concerns about a child’s hearing it is important that they receive a full audiological assessment. Children’s hearing assessments are tailored to the child’s developmental age and can be enjoyable. The Audiologist will use a range of listening games and activities to measure the child’s response to sound.
Useful information about childhood hearing problems can found on the following websites: