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Ears Nose and Throat 2019

Hearing well matters: stay connected to your loved ones


Sue Falkingham

President, British Academy of Audiology

Hearing health is a vital part of healthy ageing. Good hearing helps people stay connected, reduces loneliness and supports health and wellbeing. If you hear well, you live well.

I didn’t quite catch that

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.

Age-related cognitive decline can be prevented with early hearing loss diagnosis

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.3

Where can I go if I want to get my hearing checked?

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.

What to expect from your hearing assessment appointment

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.

Tailoring your hearing device to your lifestyle

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.

The British Academy of Audiology

The British Academy of Audiology is the largest association of professionals in hearing and balance in the UK. Our membership extends internationally and provides services in both the public and private sector. The BAA aims to help its members to develop in their professional skills, provide a benchmark for quality and professional standards and promote audiology as an autonomous profession.

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