my family are getting at me suggesting I’m going deaf.

Diana I am in my 70’s and my family are getting at me suggesting I’m going deaf. I agree I don’t answer the door bell or telephone as quickly as I did years ago.  How should I check this out and what can be done? Mary Packer Hampshire

Mary, it’s estimated that more than 10 million (about 1 in 6) people in the UK have a degree of hearing impairment or deafness. Some people are born with hearing loss or it can occur suddenly.  But usually it develops gradually and is a common problem with age or it could be caused by repeated exposure to loud noises. Hearing loss is the result of sound signals not reaching the brain. Signs include difficulty hearing people clearly or misunderstanding what is said, watching TV or listening to music with the volume turned up, and asking family and friends to repeat themselves.

See your GP if you have signs of an ear infection, such as flu-like symptoms, severe earache, discharge or hearing loss. The GP may refer you to an audiologist (hearing specialist) or an ENT surgeon for further tests. Hearing loss is sometimes temporary and can be treated with medication or minor surgery. Depending on the cause and severity, digital hearing aids are available through the NHS.  Bone anchored implants are suitable for people who are unable to use hearing aids, and middle ear implants may be the answer for other people.

For people who find hearing aids aren’t powerful enough cochlear implants may be recommended.  Hearing loss should not be left untreated.