Hearing loss is a major public health issue affecting about 9 million people in England. Because agerelated hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss, it is estimated that by 2035 there will be around 13 million people with hearing loss in England – a fifth of the population. The psychological, financial and health burden of hearing loss can be reduced by prompt and accurate referral, robust assessment and correct management.
The care offered to people with hearing difficulties varies from place to place, and many people face delays in having their hearing loss identified and managed. Most hearing difficulties are age related and need assessment and management by the local audiology team. Earwax may complicate the clinical picture and cause hearing difficulties, and can be treated in primary or community care. Other causes of hearing difficulties need prompt, or even urgent, investigation and treatment by specialist services.
This guideline covers some aspects of assessing and managing hearing loss in primary, community and secondary care. It aims to improve the quality of life for adults with hearing loss by advising healthcare staff on assessing hearing difficulties, managing earwax and referring people for audiological or specialist assessment and management.
The guideline covers adults aged over 18, including adults whose age of onset of hearing loss was under 18 but who present for the first time in adulthood.