Hearing Disorders: Introduction FeedbackA general introduction to Hearing Disorders.Source: NHS Choices, 10 Jun 2013
Hearing loss is a common problem that often develops with age or is caused by repeated exposure to loud noises.
Action on Hearing Loss estimates that more than 10 million (about 1 in 6) people in the UK have some degree of hearing impairment or deafness.
Hearing loss can occur suddenly, but usually develops gradually. General signs of hearing loss can include:
- difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say
- asking people to repeat themselves
- listening to music or watching television with the volume turned up high
Read more about the symptoms of hearing loss.
When to see your GP
See your GP if you are having problems with your hearing, or your child is showing signs of hearing difficulty. Particularly if you lose the hearing in one ear. If you lose your hearing suddenly you must see your GP as soon as possible.
Your GP can check for any problems and may refer you to an audiologist (hearing specialist) or an ENT surgeon for further tests.
You can also visit the Action for Hearing Loss website for an online hearing test.
Read more about diagnosing hearing loss.
Why it happens
Hearing loss is the result of sound signals not reaching the brain. There are two main types of hearing loss, depending on where the problem lies:
- sensorineural hearing loss – caused by damage to the sensitive hair cells inside part of the inner ear called the cochlea or the auditory nerve; this occurs naturally with age or as a result of injury
- conductive hearing loss – when sounds are unable to pass from your outer ear to your inner ear, often as the result of a blockage such as earwax, glue ear or a build-up of fluid due to an ear infection, a perforated ear drum or a disorder of the hearing bones
It's also possible to have both these types of hearing loss. This is known as mixed hearing loss.
Some people are born with hearing loss, but most cases develop as you get older.
Read more about causes of hearing loss.
Preventing hearing loss
It isn't always possible to prevent hearing loss if you have an underlying condition that can cause you to lose your hearing.
However, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of hearing loss from long-term exposure to loud noise. This includes not having music or the television on at a loud volume at home and using ear-protection at loud music events or in noisy work environments.
Read more about preventing hearing loss.
Treating hearing loss
The way hearing loss is treated depends on the cause and how severe it is.
In cases of sensorineural hearing loss, there are several options that may help to improve a person’s ability to hear and communicate. These include:
- digital hearing aids, available through the NHS
- middle ear implants – surgically implanted devices suitable for some people who are unable to use hearing aids
- cochlear implants – small hearing devices that are surgically implanted inside the inner ear for people who find that hearing aids are not powerful enough
- lip reading or sign language - such as British Sign Language (BSL)
Conductive hearing loss is sometimes temporary and can be treated with medication or minor surgery if necessary. However, more major surgery may be required to fix the ear drum or hearing bones. If conventional hearing aids do not work, there are also some implantable devices for this type of hearing loss, such as a Bone Anchored Hearing Aids (BAHAs).
Read more about treating hearing loss.
Hearing Disorders: Guidance FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Hearing Disorders from producers of guidance information.
- Clinical Knowledge Summaries, 19 April 2010
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 01 February 2008
Information for the public
Hearing Disorders: Information for the public FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Hearing Disorders, from Department of Health accredited producers of patient information.
- NHS Choices, 10 June 2013
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Hearing Disorders: Ongoing Research FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Hearing Disorders, from research trials.
Hearing Disorders: Evidence Uncertainty FeedbackThe most relevant search results for Hearing Disorders, highlighting areas where further research is needed.
Are any designs of hearing aids like Edulink and others, more or less effective in children and young people with auditory neuropathy and/or auditory processing disorder?UK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments, 23 June 2014
Auditory-verbal therapy for promoting spoken language development in children with permanent hearing impairmentsUK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments, 28 April 2014
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Contralateral bone anchored hearing aids in acquired unilateral sensorineural hearing loss in adultsUK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments, 29 May 2007
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...specific patient populations. Hearing disorders impact the social welfare system...minor part of the total costs of hearing disorders. Conclusions: There is a need...societal costs for all degrees of hearing disorders, in particular since a large...
31 August 2012 - Publisher: Informa Healthcare - Publication type: Systematic Reviews
...Evidence Update on Hearing Disorders: Auditory Processing Disorder Expert commentary...Auditory Processing Disorders. Developmental Behavioural... MRC Institute of Hearing Research. Auditory Processing Disorder - Parent information...Other Communication Disorders. Auditory Processing...
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 16 March 2009 - Publisher: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) - Publication type: Evidence updates
...Evidence Update on Hearing Disorders: Published...Evidence Update on Hearing Disorders: Therapeutic Uncertainties...been identified for hearing disorders and are listed in...auditory processing disorder Ginkgo biloba for...
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, 14 March 2011 - Publisher: National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) - Publication type: Evidence updates
...Urological and genital disorders Urological and genital disorders Show subtopics...Are any designs of hearing aids like Edulink...auditory processing disorder? Record type...Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder in Children: A Systematic...Ear nose and throat disorders Hearing disorders Neurological...
UK Database of Uncertainties about the Effects of Treatments, 23 June 2014 - Publication type: Known Uncertainty
Screening programmes for the detection of otitis media with effusion and conductive hearing loss in pre-school and new entrant school children: a critical appraisal of the literature
...strategies for OME and conductive hearing loss'. Bibliographic details...media with effusion and conductive hearing loss in pre-school and new entrant...indexing assigned by CRD MeSH Hearing Disorders; Mass Screening; Otitis Media...
Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, 31 January 2000
...idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss Benjamin PC Wei 1...Cochrane Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Group Published Online...idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Cochrane Database of...Idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (ISSHL) is a clinical...
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 02 July 2013 - Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
...effectiveness of universal screening for hearing loss in newborns Kezirian E...effectiveness of universal screening for hearing loss in newborns. Otolaryngology...physiology; Feasibility Studies; Hearing Disorders /diagnosis /economics /epidemiology...
NHS Economic Evaluation Database, 28 February 2002
...sudden sensorineural hearing loss Zaid Awad 1...Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Group Published Online...sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Cochrane Database...Knowledge) Cochrane ENT Disorders Group Trials Register...ICTRP #1 TS=((hearing AND los*) OR deaf...
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 15 August 2012 - Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
... #12 (sudden adj3 hearing).tw. #13 (sudden...17) Cochrane ENT Disorders Group Trials Register...1 OR #2 #4 "Hearing Disorders"[Mesh] #5 sudden... #7 (sudden AND (hearing [tiab] OR deaf...
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 17 October 2012 - Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
...idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss Lekha Agarwal 1...Cochrane Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders Group Published Online...OR 13 OR 14 OR 15 17.HEARING-DISORDERS#.DE. 18.(hearing NEAR los$3 OR deaf$4...
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 07 October 2009 - Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
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