Waiting for a hearing test

Having your hearing tested is not unpleasant, and you will be under the care of qualified professionals at all times. Using properly fitted hearing aids (if you need them) will not be harmful to your hearing, and in fact can help in preserving as much useful hearing capability as possible.

What your GP will do

Your GP may ask you some basic questions about your hearing, so it’s good to be prepared with some answers.

Young lady taking a hearing test.They may ask you:

  • When did you first become concerned about your hearing?
  • Is your hearing better in one ear than in the other?
  • Have you had any ear pain or any discharge coming from your ears?
  • Do you ever hear ringing, whistling or buzzing in your ears? If so, how frequently, and how long does it last?
  • Does anyone else in your family have a hearing loss?

Your answers to these questions will help your GP decide the best course of action - and whether to refer you directly to your local hospital audiology department or an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department.

If your GP thinks your hearing problems probably result from the ageing process alone, they can refer you directly to an audiology clinic. However, your GP will refer you to an ENT department before you see an audiologist if they think your hearing problems could be due to other factors.

How your GP will check your hearing

Your GP may look in your ears, using a torch-like instrument called an otoscope. This lets them see if you have a lot of ear wax. If there is a build up of wax, then it will need to be removed if you are to be referred to an ENT or audiology clinic.

Your GP may also give you a basic hearing check using a simple metal implement known as a tuning fork. Although tuning fork tests do not give a precise measure of sensitivity to sounds, they can provide your GP with useful information about the hearing status of both your ears.

Although uncommon, a few GP surgeries can also carry out full hearing tests.

If your GP refers you to a NHS clinic, you should soon receive an appointment to visit either your local audiology department or your local Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) department. You can see how these have been rated by previous patients, or leave your own review, on our Locate and Rate database. Remember that in some areas of England you now have a choice of where you will be referred to, under the Any Qualified Provider system, so you should be prepared to discuss with your GP where you would prefer.

If your GP is going to refer you to an audiology or ENT clinic, they should tell you how long you should have to wait before you get an appointment, and what to expect when you are seen. If they do not tell you this, please remember to ask before you leave.

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