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What is being deaf or hard of hearing?

Hearing loss, being hard of hearing or deaf means a partial or total inability to hear. General signs of hearing loss can include:-

  • Lack of response to noises for young children

  • Difficulty hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say

  • Asking people to repeat themselves

  • Listening to music or watching television with the volume turned up high

Although hearing loss commonly develops with age or can be caused by repeated exposure to loud noises, it can also be present from a young age and can be caused by genetic factors, illness or physical injury. In children it may affect the development of language.

Hearing loss is usually described as mild, mild-moderate, moderate, moderately severe, severe, or profound.

Action on Hearing Loss estimates that more than 10 million (about 1 in 6) people in the UK have some degree of hearing impairment or deafness.


Aids and support

The way hearing loss is treated depends on the cause and how severe it is. There are several options that may help to improve a person’s ability to hear and/or communicate. These include:

  • Digital hearing aids, available through the NHS

  • Middle ear implants: these are surgically implanted devices, suitable for some people who are unable to use hearing aids

  • Cochlear implants: these are small hearing devices that are surgically implanted inside the inner ear, for people who find that hearing aids are not powerful enough

  • Lip reading or sign language, such as British Sign Language (BSL)

  • Temporary hearing loss can be treated with medication or surgery

More information

If you are having problems with your hearing, or your child is showing signs of hearing difficulty then you should see your GP.

If you lose your hearing suddenly you must see your GP as soon as possible.

There are lots of places you can get more information.

  • You can find out more about hearing loss on the NHS website
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