My partner struggles to hear the TV or radio but believes their hearing is fine. What should they do?

Struggling to hear the television is just one of the common signs that it could be a hearing problem. Other signs could be difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say, asking people to repeat themselves, difficulty hearing the telephone or doorbell or regularly feeling tired or stressed, due to having to concentrate closely while listening.   We recommend that your partner has their hearing checked so this can be ruled out. Hearing tests are free, available on the high street from BSHAA members or through your GP.  To find a BSHAA member click here

My hearing is muffled, how do I know if I have a hearing loss or whether it might just be a build-up of wax?

Looking after your ears is important and wax can build-up in your ear canal and can cause hearing loss. A normal amount of wax is perfectly healthy and helps keep your ears clean. However, some people produce more wax than others and it can build up.   

This could be the cause of a hearing loss and if you are worried that you’re not hearing as well as you used to then you should make an appointment to have a free hearing assessment. During the assessment the health of your ears will be checked by the audiologist who will look into your ears using an otoscope.  This is a straight forward procedure and if the problem is just wax this will be easily identified and dealt with accordingly. If not, a hearing test will then be conducted and the results will be shared with you.

If I have a hearing problem and need a hearing aid does it mean I’m going deaf?

Quite the opposite! Hearing aids work by enhancing your existing hearing, so you need to have some level of hearing for them to work.   It is a truth that for most people identified with a hearing loss, it is a permanent and irreversible condition that will not get better only worse. So delaying doesn’t help and, in fact, delay can create a greater problem, but wearing aids will most definitely not make the problem worse.

Delaying help is a bad idea for nearly all health issues. Hearing specialists around the world agree that for hearing loss, the longer the delay, the more difficult it can be for the brain to adapt. The earlier that people get help with their hearing, the higher the chances of success.   

Untreated hearing loss not only affects quality of life, it also affects the brain’s ability to remember common everyday sounds. When the hearing nerves lose their function and no longer effectively channel sounds to the brain, over time, the brain ‘forgets’ the sounds and becomes unable to understand them. Our members regularly see people who wish they’d acted sooner to do something about their hearing.   Some new research suggests there is a link between hearing loss and cognitive decline and the use of hearing aids can reduce this decline. 

I've read that listening to loud music is not good for your hearing. How loud can you listen before you cause damage to your ears?

Exposure to any loud sound for prolonged periods can cause permanent damage. For example, noise levels exceeding 105 dB can damage hearing if endured for more than 15 minutes. MP3 players can exceed 110dB so there is a danger of hearing damage.

After a hearing test I was told that I needed a hearing aid for both ears; would one instrument not work?

Where a hearing loss is found in both ears we always recommend using two hearing aids. Your ears are supposed to work together and only using one will limit your ability to listen and understand, especially in demanding listening environments. For example, you should find it easier to follow conversation when there’s background noise and tell which direction a sound is coming from.

My friend has hearing aids but never wears them because she says they don’t work – is this true?

More often than not, this will just be a wrong perception and this can be down to a number of factors, virtually all of which can be overcome. It can take time. When you first get hearing aids, you will gradually need to build up the amount of time you wear them so you can get used to the new sounds and the feeling of them in your ears. Eventually, you should be able to wear them comfortably for most of the day, but this may take up to three months so you’ll need to be patient.

When you get your hearing aids, the audiologist should advise you how to get the best from them. They should also show you how to use and look after them. Your friend should go and see her hearing specialist again.

I have problems hearing in crowded places, will hearing aids cut out background noise?

Today’s hearing aids are can reduce background noise but will not cut out the noise altogether. A world without background noise would be unnatural and sound quite odd. Also; some background noise is useful; like an approaching car!


My elderly father claims that my mumbling is the cause of him not always hearing me. No one else seems to have a problem. Is it me or him?

The fact that no one else has a problem with you diction would imply it is him.   A common symptom of hearing loss is the impression that people aren’t speaking clearly because only part of speech is heard. Most of the English language is dominated by loud, low frequency vowel sounds. Without the softer, higher frequency consonant sounds at the beginning and end of words, they can begin to crash into one another. The listener can interpret this as mumbling.

You will need to tackle this sensitively as most people believe that you can either hear or you are deaf. In reality there are many stages in between, but lots of people still have difficulty confronting yet another symptom that they are getting older.

I have two hearing aids from the NHS and whilst they are not as big as they used to be, I am still conscious of them and I am sure everyone can see them. Is there anything else I can try?

Sometimes the NHS will provide a small, in the ear hearing system. It doesn’t happen often, but it might worth checking.  Most of our members will be able to assess you for a new range of hearing aids called ‘invisible in the ear’. If your hearing loss and your ear canal is suitable, these clever instruments can literally disappear.  In addition; it is now possible to locate the latest generation of digital circuitry in these hearing aids allowing you to hear as well as you can with amplification.

A consultation with an audiologist who is a BSHAA member will help you understand whether you can get a hearing system like this and how much of a difference it could make to your hearing.  Find a BSHAA audiologist

I'm having difficulty using my mobile phone when I am wearing my hearing aids. Is there anything I can do?

There definitely is.   New technology is now available which allows certain hearing aids to connect to your mobile phone and some can be described as ‘made for iPhone’.

What this means is that whilst wearing these hearing aids, you can connect wirelessly directly to the device and listen to music or whatever other type of streamed media you happen to be accessing. The sound quality has been reported to be good by people who own these hearing aids. Also the apps that you can download onto your mobile device mean that you are in total control of the way it performs.

 The even better news is that this level of sophistication is also available now for a wide range of android devices.   Your best option is to talk to a Find a BSHAA audiologist

I hear that the NHS is no longer providing free hearing aids because of the cutbacks. Is this true?

Unfortunately this is almost entirely dependent on where you live. There is at least one area in the country, North Staffordshire, where GPs have decided that they won’t invest money in hearing aids for patients with mild hearing loss. One of the other ways to save money is to only offer one hearing aid. If you don’t know much about the benefits of amplification, it is easy to imagine that this is better than no help at all. But, how strange would it be if your optician only offered you a lens for the left or right eye?

 Our advice is, if you want NHS hearing aids,  always to talk to your GP.  If you don’t like what you hear, speak to a BSHAA audiologist

I’ve had hearing aids for years and whilst I use them successfully, I still struggle with the psychological impact of hearing loss. Is there anywhere I can go for more help other than my audiologist?

First, your audiologist is the best person to advise you what is available and appropriate locally. However; if you would rather seek more independent advice, there are two charitable organisations that you can access directly. These are Action on Hearing Loss and Hearing Link. Both of these have helplines where you can talk freely about any problems that you might be having.

Second, both of these groups are resourced locally and you may be delighted to find that they have a group in your area who can help with both emotional and practical support. Give them a call, everyone who has was pleased that they did.

Click to visit the Action on Hearing Loss website

Click here to visit the Hearing Link website

What's a hearing loop? My friend says using that helps you hear better in shops and the post office. How do I make this work?

Whoever provided your hearing aids should have told you if you have a hearing loop setting and how to use it so it sounds as though you don't have it.   If you have, you can turn it on by either a small push button or a switch marked ‘M,T,O’. The ‘T’ here refers to ‘telecoil’ (also called hearing loop).  What this does is allow the hearing aids to pick up a magnetic field broadcast by whoever is speaking into the microphone and turn that back into sound.

This is popular in churches, banks and post offices and other situations where the hearing aids are trying to compete with background noise.   Why not check with whoever provided your hearing aids.

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