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Hearing loss and deafness

About hearing loss and symptoms

Hearing loss may be caused by a number of factors. This includes genetics, old age, exposure to noise, some infections, birth complications, trauma to the ear and certain medications or toxins. Deafness is usually used to refer to those with only little or no hearing.

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent and can affect all age groups.

You can find out more about causes of hearing loss on the NHS Choices website.

Hearing loss may be gradual, for example in age-related hearing loss. You may start to notice that you need to turn up the volume on the television. You may find it difficult to hear and understand people when you're in a noisy place. Hearing loss can also be sudden, for example if it’s caused by a viral infection of the inner ear. Some people find that their hearing loss is associated with a continual ringing in their ears (tinnitus).

If you have an infection, you may have some other symptoms, such as earache and discharge from your ears.

If you think that your hearing is getting worse, you should see your GP.

If you have sudden hearing loss in one or both ears, seek immediate advice. You may need urgent treatment.

Hearing tests at home

If you are housebound, or have difficulty getting to the audiology department, discuss this with your GP. They can write to the NHS audiology department and request for an audiologist to come to your home if needed.

If you get your hearing aid privately you can find a hearing aid dispenser who will do a home visit. You can search the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists website. Some offer free home testing, so ask before you make an appointment.

Action on Hearing Loss offers an online Hearing Check. This is designed to help identify if you have hearing loss and encourage you to take action.

Equipment to help you

There is a wide range of aids and equipment that can make everyday activities and tasks easier.

The Living Made Easy website has practical advice on equipment and adaptations if you have hearing loss.

Ask Sara has ideas and products which may be useful for anyone with hearing loss.

Information and support

See our Community Directory for details of local Hard of Hearing groups.

deafPLUS in Hampshire provides information and advice on all aspects of hearing loss as well as employment and training support. 

Hearing Link provides information, advice and community support for people with hearing loss, their families and friends.

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the RNID) provides support, advice and training for people with hearing loss and tinnitus.

RAD (Royal Association for Deaf People) provides a wide range of services for Deaf people. All services are delivered in British Sign Language (BSL).

Deafblind UK and Sense offer information and support for people who are deafblind and their families.

SoundSpace Online, created by The Ear Foundation, provides online information, resources and learning about hearing loss.

Sonus (formerly Hampshire Deaf Association) aims to enable deaf, deafened, deaf-blind and hard of hearing people to maintain their independence.

Hampshire County Council has specialist Sensory Loss teams. They can carry out assessments and provide training to help you find practical solutions to the everyday problems that arise from hearing loss.

You can register as deaf or hard of hearing with the Council.

Deaf sign language users

If you use British Sign Language, you can contact Hampshire County Council’s Deaf Services Team. They are a specialist team of social workers and care managers with Sign language skills.

Search our Community Directory for details of local Deaf Clubs.

Hospital and doctor interpreting service

If you have an appointment with your GP or hospital and you need a BSL interpreter please contact your GP/hospital to book. Please give the GP notice to book a BSL interpreter. This is funded by the local NHS trust. It is your right to have a qualified interpreter for medical appointments.

Police

For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired or deafblind, Hampshire Constabulary have some alternative ways to contact them.

Police Link Officers are also available with sign language, lip-speaking and deafblind manual skills. They communicate with people to give information and advice and to provide a link to other police departments.

Sonus provides communication support. They have qualified interpreters, communicators, note-takers (both electronic and manual) and lip-speakers. They cover a wide range of bookings. This includes medical appointments, job interviews and conferences, weddings and funerals.

Last reviewed: 21/04/2016

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