Don’t ignore signs of hearing loss. Three steps to better hearing
It can be very tempting to ignore signs of hearing loss as we get older. Perhaps we have become used to compensating by turning the volume on the TV, the radio and our smartphone up just that little bit more? Perhaps people around you seem to be mumbling and you frequently need to ask people to speak up, especially in noisy places so that you can hear them clearly?
These can be signs of hearing damage and hearing loss. If you are experiencing any of these it is a good idea to talk about it with a hearing professional.
Children and babies can experience hearing loss too. Here are six signs that a child you know may need to have their hearing checked by an audiologist.
Where to go for a hearing test
For many of us, the first port of call if we suspect that we, or a child we care for is experiencing a problem with their hearing is our family doctor. Your GP will be able to offer advice, check for simple causes like a build-up of ear wax before referring you to a hearing professional called an audiologist.
Private audiology practices, dealing exclusively in hearing care, are available to help you with all your hearing concerns. Many high-street optical chains also provide free hearing testing in-store with an audiologist.
Many audiology practices offer an online hearing test. These tests can help you get a clearer understanding of your hearing health and determine whether you could benefit from a face-to-face hearing test with a hearing professional.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may find that services are running a little bit differently – but contact your local provider to find out how they can help you, including remote support. As an essential healthcare service, hearing providers are still operating, with additional precautions to keep you safe.
What to expect at your first hearing appointment
Don’t worry – everyone feels a bit daunted before their first hearing test but going along can make such a difference. Your first appointment will be an opportunity for the hearing professional to get to know you and find out what your concerns are.
Remember – they do this day in, day out. Although things might feel a bit different at the moment, They will put you at ease and help you to relax.
The audiology provider will be operating under the latest Government guidance and you will notice measures in place like social distancing, screens, use of PPE and hand sanitising stations, to combat the spread of the virus and keep everyone safe. But that won’t change the warm and friendly welcome that you receive.
Depending on your individual circumstances, some of the pre and follow up care may be done remotely – but the team will guide you through everything.
After discussing a few questions and finding out a little more of your medical history, the audiologist will look inside your ears to check your ear drums and ear canal.
Typically, the next step is the hearing test. Here, you will put on a pair of headphones and you will be asked to press a button every time you hear a sound. The audiologist is testing different pitches and intensity levels, to see how you respond.
When the test is complete, the audiologist will run through the results with you and discuss your treatment options so that a plan can be put in place to help you.
Every practice is slightly different so things may run in a slightly different order and the techniques will be tailored to the individual, , but ultimately they want to find out how they can best help you and address any worries or concerns you have.
If hearing aids are recommended, the audiologist will talk everything through with you in detail. They will be programmed to your needs and you will be shown how to use them. A follow up appointment will then be arranged. 
We have created a handy video which explains what to expect from your first appointment. [Link to Emily Balmer WHD 2020 video]
Our hearing changes over our lifetime. Once you have had your hearing checked your audiologist will advise you of the outcome and will recommend any next steps in your treatment plan. If your hearing test does not indicate any hearing loss, they will be able to advise you on when you should book a hearing test in the future.
Read our guide to healthy hearing for more tips to keep you hearing more for longer. Many people find it daunting to talk about hearing loss. We have also put together some advice on discussing hearing loss with a loved one.
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