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Hearing loss is sometimes sudden, but more often it happens gradually and you may not notice it at first.

It can be temporary or permanent. You may also have other symptoms, such as earache, unusual noises in your ear (tinnitus) or a spinning sensation (vertigo).

See a GP if you notice a problem with your hearing. They can help work out what might be causing it.

General signs of hearing loss

It can be hard to tell if you're losing your hearing. Other people may notice it before you do.

Early signs of hearing loss include:

These problems are often caused by hearing loss that can happen as you get older. This is permanent, but treatments such as hearing aids can help.

Signs of hearing loss in 1 ear

It's not always easy to tell if you've lost hearing in 1 ear, as you may still be able to hear with your other ear.

Signs of a hearing problem in 1 ear include:

Hearing loss in 1 ear is often caused by sound temporarily being unable to pass through the ear – for example, because of earwax or an ear infection.

Signs of hearing loss in children

Your child may have a problem with their hearing if they:

See a GP if you're worried about your child's hearing.

Hearing loss in children can be caused by a build-up of fluid in the ear (glue ear), which tends to get better over time and can be treated.

Signs of hearing loss in babies

Babies have a hearing check in the first few weeks after birth, but speak to your health visitor or see a GP if you think they might have difficulty hearing.

They may have a problem with their hearing if they: