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Hearing loss

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent. It often comes on gradually as you get older, but it can sometimes happen suddenly.

See your GP if you notice any problems with your hearing so you can find out the cause and get advice on treatment.

Signs and symptoms of hearing loss

It's not always easy to tell if you're losing your hearing.

Common signs include:

The signs can be slightly different if you only have hearing loss in 1 ear or if a young child has hearing loss.

Read more about the signs and symptoms of hearing loss.

When to get medical help

Your GP can help if you think you're losing your hearing.

Your GP will ask about your symptoms and look inside your ears using a small handheld torch with a magnifying lens. They can also do some simple checks of your hearing.

If needed, they can refer you to a specialist for more hearing tests.

Causes of hearing loss

Hearing loss can have many different causes. For example:

This may give you an idea of the reason for hearing loss – but make sure you see a GP to get a proper diagnosis. It might not always be possible to identify an obvious cause.

Treatments for hearing loss

Hearing loss sometimes gets better on its own, or may be treated with medicine or a simple procedure. For example, earwax can be sucked out, or softened with eardrops.

But other types – such as gradual hearing loss, which often happens as you get older – may be permanent. In these cases, treatment can help make the most of the remaining hearing. This may involve using:

Read more about treatments for hearing loss.

Preventing hearing loss

It's not always possible to prevent hearing loss, but there are some simple things you can do to reduce the risk of damaging your hearing.

These include:

Read more tips to protect your hearing.

Information:

Social care and support guide

If you:

  • need help with day-to-day living because of illness or disability
  • care for someone regularly because they're ill, elderly or disabled - including family members

Our guide to care and support explains your options and where you can get support.