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Health Matters: Deaf Awareness Week

Health Matters: Deaf Awareness Week
07 May 2019

Dr Andrew Wilson, clinical chair of Eastern Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group

In my GP surgery, I often see people who are showing signs of hearing loss. In fact, one in six people in the UK have some form of hearing loss and the impact can be substantial for the person affected and those around them at home, work and in the community. In Deaf Awareness Week (6-12 May), it is important to highlight the effects of untreated hearing loss such as social isolation, depression, loss of independence and employment challenges.

The good news is that there are lots of ways to help. Firstly, visit your local pharmacy who can offer a range of treatments including ear-drops. The build-up of ear wax is a common cause of temporary hearing loss. Some types of hearing loss, such as gradual hearing loss may need medical treatment and support. Getting advice as soon as you are aware of any hearing loss can help to prevent further loss and to make the most of your remaining hearing.

Hearing aids work really well for many people and hearing aid technology has improved significantly over the years; nowadays there are a variety of aids which are smaller, neater and work better too. Hearing aids are available on the NHS for anyone who needs them.

There can be a tendency for people suffering from hearing loss to accept it as a part of growing old, but it doesn’t have to be. There are numerous benefits to wearing hearing aids, helping you to maintain an active, independent and social life.

Being deaf aware is also important so you don't unknowingly exclude people who have hearing loss, or make their daily life more difficult. Here are some communication tips provided by Action on Hearing Loss, the UK’s national charity that helps people with hearing loss:

  • Speak clearly, not too slowly, and use normal lip movements, facial expressions and gestures.
  • Ask if they need to lipread you, even if they’re wearing a hearing aid.
  • For longer chats, find a place to talk with good lighting, away from noise and distractions.

The local deaf community have created a document with additional tips on how to communicate with those who have difficulty hearing.

Deafness Support Network provide free lip reading classes in Cheshire, which can help break the barriers of communication and is also a great support tool to have alongside wearing a hearing aid, visit dsnonline.co.uk for more information.