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The treatments for hearing loss depend on what's causing it.

Sometimes it gets better on its own or can be treated with medicine or a simple procedure.

Some cases of sudden hearing loss may be treated using steroids.

Hearing loss caused by earwax build-up can be treated, by a GP or practice nurse, with:

Other types of hearing loss – such as gradual hearing loss that can happen as you get older – may be permanent.

Hearing aids

Hearing aids are small electronic devices worn in your ear that make sounds louder and clearer, although they will not give you back your full hearing.

There are many different types of hearing aid, including:

Speak to a GP if you think you need a hearing aid. They can refer you to a specialist who can advise you whether a hearing aid is suitable for you and which types may be best.

Modern hearing aids are available on the NHS, but these are mainly the behind the ear type. You can choose to pay privately for types not provided on the NHS.

Read more about hearing aids, including what the main types look like and how to get them on the NHS or privately.

Hearing implants

For some people, hearing aids do not help and instead they need to have a special device fitted inside or to their skull during an operation. These are known as hearing implants.

Common types of implant include bone anchored hearing aids, cochlear implants, auditory brainstem implants and middle ear implants.

Bone anchored hearing aids

A bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) may be an option if you have hearing loss caused by sound being unable to reach your inner ear.

This type of hearing aid is attached to your skull during a minor operation. It picks up sound and sends it to the inner ear by vibrating the bones near your ear.

It can be clipped on and off – for example, it's removed at night and when you swim or take a shower. Some newer types are held onto the head with magnets instead of a connector through the skin.

Cochlear implants

A cochlear implant may be an option if you have severe, permanent hearing loss that is not helped by hearing aids. 

They work by turning sound into electrical signals and sending them to part of the inner ear called the cochlea. From here, the signals travel to the brain and are heard as sound.

The implant has 2 main parts:

Before having a cochlear implant, you'll have an assessment to find out if it will help. The implant will only work if the nerve that sends sound to the brain (auditory nerve) is working properly.

RNID has more information about cochlear implants.

Auditory brainstem implants

An auditory brainstem implant (ABI) may be an option if you have severe, permanent hearing loss and a problem with your auditory nerve.

An ABI works in a similar way to a cochlear implant, but the electrical sound signals are sent directly to the brain along wires, instead of the cochlea.

An ABI will not usually fully restore your hearing, but it can improve it to some degree.

Hearing Link has more information about auditory brainstem implants.

Middle ear implants

A middle ear implant (MEI) may be an option if you cannot use a regular hearing aid – for example, because you're allergic to the materials they're made from or they do not fit in your ear correctly.

An MEI has 2 main parts:

Vibrating the hearing bones means that sound can travel into your inner ear and brain. This will not fully restore your hearing, but it can help make sounds louder and clearer.

Hearing Link has more information about middle ear implants.

Follow-up appointments

You should be offered a follow-up appointment 6 to 12 weeks after your hearing aids are fitted for the first time.

This appointment is an opportunity to:

Assistive listening devices (ALDs)

There are many sorts of listening devices, other than hearing aids, to help boost your hearing in everyday situations in the home and out and about.

ALDs, which can be used with a hearing aid or on their own, include:

Your GP or hearing specialist will tell you about organisations that provide advice on obtaining ALDs, such as:

Sign language and lip reading

If you've been deaf from birth or you develop severe hearing loss later in life, it can affect your ability to communicate with other people.

But you can learn different methods of communicating that can be used instead of, or as well as, spoken English.

2 of the main methods are:

For more information and help, see: