Hearing loss is common, particularly as you get older. See a GP if you have problems with your hearing. It could be caused by something that can be easily treated.
Signs of hearing loss
It’s not always easy to tell if you’re losing your hearing.
Common signs include:
difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places
asking people to repeat themselves
listening to music or watching TV with the volume higher than other people need
difficulty hearing on the phone
finding it hard to keep up with a conversation
feeling tired or stressed from having to concentrate while listening
Sometimes someone else might notice problems with your hearing before you do.
Causes of hearing loss
There are lots of possible causes of hearing loss. It may be caused by something treatable or it may be permanent.
Your symptoms may give you an idea what could be causing it. But do not self-diagnose, see a GP for advice.
Common causes of hearing loss and related symptoms.
Symptoms Possible cause
Gradual hearing loss in both ears Aging or damage from loud noise over many years
Difficulty hearing in 1 ear, earache, a feeling of pressure in your ear, discharge coming out of the ear Ear infection
Difficulty hearing in 1 ear, itchiness, feeling like your ear is blocked Earwax build-up
Sudden hearing loss after an ear infection, a very loud noise or a change in air pressure (for example, from flying) Perforated eardrum
Sudden hearing loss along with dizziness, a spinning sensation (vertigo) or ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
Treatments for hearing loss
Treatment for hearing loss depends on what’s causing it.
Sometimes a GP may be able to treat the cause, for example:
an ear infection might be treated with antibiotics
an earwax build-up might be treated with ear drops or removed
If your hearing loss is not caused by something a GP can treat, they may refer you to a hearing specialist for further tests and treatment.
Hearing aids and implants
If you have permanent hearing loss, a specialist will often recommend hearing aids. These will not make your hearing perfect, but they make sounds louder and clearer.
Some people may need a hearing implant. These are devices that are attached to your skull or placed deep inside your ear.
Find out more about hearing aids and implants
Things you can do if you have hearing loss
If you have hearing loss, there are things you can do to help you communicate with others and avoid more damage to your hearing.