Hearing loss and deafness

About hearing loss and symptoms

Hearing loss may be caused by a number of factors. This includes genetics, old age, exposure to noise, some infections, birth complications, trauma to the ear and certain medications or toxins. Deafness is usually used to refer to those with only little or no hearing.

Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent and can affect all age groups.

You can find out more about causes of hearing loss on the NHS Choices website.

Hearing loss may be gradual, for example in age-related hearing loss. You may start to notice that you need to turn up the volume on the television. You may find it difficult to hear and understand people when you're in a noisy place. Hearing loss can also be sudden, for example if it’s caused by a viral infection of the inner ear. Some people find that their hearing loss is associated with a continual ringing in their ears (tinnitus).

If you have an infection, you may have some other symptoms, such as earache and discharge from your ears.

If you think that your hearing is getting worse, you should see your GP.

If you have sudden hearing loss in one or both ears, seek immediate advice. You may need urgent treatment.

Hearing tests at home

If you are housebound, or have difficulty getting to the audiology department, discuss this with your GP. They can write to the NHS audiology department and request for an audiologist to come to your home if needed.

If you get your hearing aid privately you can find a hearing aid dispenser who will do a home visit. You can search the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists website. Some offer free home testing, so ask before you make an appointment.

RNID offers an automated telephone hearing check. This is designed to help identify if you have hearing loss and encourage you to take action.

Equipment to help you

There is a wide range of aids and equipment that can make everyday activities and tasks easier.

- RNID has information about assistive devices and technology to help you.
Living Made Easy provides impartial advice on a range of products to help with conversations and audio-visual amplification. (On a desktop computer, select "Communicating" from the menu across the top of the page and then 'Listening'.  On your phone, tap on the 'Living Made Easy' logo at the top to bring up the menu and then select "Communicating" and then 'Listening').

Information and support

Go to our Community Directory for details of local and national support. Click on 'Specific needs' and then 'Sight or hearing loss'.

Hearing Link provides information, advice and community support for people with hearing loss, their families and friends.

RNID provides support, advice and training for people with hearing loss and tinnitus. 

RAD (Royal Association for Deaf People) provides a wide range of services for deaf people. All services are delivered in British Sign Language (BSL).

Deafblind UK and Sense offer information and support for people who are deafblind and their families.

Deaf Action aims to enable deaf, deafened, deaf-blind and hard-of-hearing people to maintain their independence. Amongst other services, they provide community support across Hampshire.

DeafPlus offers an online information and advice hub (information in BSL and text).

A sunflower lanyard was introduced at major UK airports in 2018 in order to allow passengers with hidden disabilities to indicate discreetly to staff that they may need additional support or help. The use of the lanyard has now spread and is now available from a number of transport providers. You can pick up a free lanyard at Tesco or M&S.

Hampshire County Council, Southampton City Council and Portsmouth City Council have teams to help residents with sensory loss. They can carry out assessments and provide training to help you find practical solutions to the everyday problems that arise from hearing loss.

Deaf sign language users

Hampshire County Council’s Deaf Services Team. are a specialist team of social workers and care managers with sign language skills.

Search our Community Directory. Click on 'Specific needs' and then 'Sight or hearing loss' to find our listing for local Deaf Clubs.

Advice videos in BSL

Interpreting services

Deaf Action provides communication support. They have qualified interpreters, communicators, note-takers (both electronic and manual) and lip-speakers. They cover a wide range of bookings. This includes medical appointments, job interviews and conferences, weddings and funerals.

Hospital and doctor interpreting service

If you have an appointment with your GP or hospital and you need a BSL interpreter please contact your GP/hospital to book. Please give the GP notice to book a BSL interpreter. This is funded by the local NHS trust. It is your right to have a qualified interpreter for medical appointments.


For people who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech impaired or deafblind, Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary has some alternative ways to contact them.

Police Link Officers are also available with sign language, lip-speaking and deafblind manual skills. They communicate with people to give information and advice and to provide a link to other police departments.

Deaf Action provides communication support. They have qualified interpreters, communicators, note-takers (both electronic and manual) and lip-speakers. They cover a wide range of bookings. This includes medical appointments, job interviews and conferences, weddings and funerals.

Useful links

Deaf Action



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