Patients are being advised to have hearing tests at their local general practice, after a survey highlighted poor awareness of the condition.
The survey of 1300 people, Listen Up Britain, found that up to one in five people believe if they had symptoms of hearing loss, they would completely ignore it, and just 12 per cent of people are aware of the scale of hearing loss, which is thought to affect up to 10 million people in the UK. On average, patients wait ten years between noticing the symptoms of the condition and having a hearing test.
Speaking to Independent Nurse, Sharmila Patel, an audiologist at St. George's Hospital, London, said that 'general practice staff should be aware about hearing loss in younger patients. Generally speaking, healthcare staff are aware that people over-65s tend to suffer a degree of hearing loss as they get older. However, younger patients may miss out on this, as they may not be recognised as needing a test.'
The survey also found that 93 per cent of people with hearing loss knew nothing about the condition prior to their diagnosis, while 46 per cent said they were not receiving any treatment for the condition.
Mrs Patel added: 'It is really important for people to be aware of hearing loss, which can affect anyone, not just the elderly. If a healthcare professional notices a patient mishearing words, speaking more loudly than normal or seeming unaware of background noise, then they should be considered for a hearing test.'
It is thought that the number of people affect by hearing loss could rise to 14.5 million by 2031. Two million have hearing aid devices and it is estimated that fewer than 90 per cent of adults eligible for hearing implants have been referred for one.
Cassandra Brown, of hearing aid provider MED-EL, the company which commissioned the survey, said: 'Removing the barriers to assessment, diagnosis and intervention is imperative to reduce the impact on quality of life and long-term damage associated with hearing loss.'