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National ‘Check your hearing’ campaign: Over a third of UK adults with no diagnosed hearing loss say they’ve pretended to follow conversations they can’t hear

Our new research, released today to launch our new ‘Check your hearing’ campaign, paints a startling picture of the nation’s hearing health amongst people who have no officially diagnosed hearing loss.

The research finds that despite 91% of these adults saying they rate their hearing as good:

  • More than a third (34%) admit they’ve pretended to follow conversations they’ve struggled to hear, for example by smiling and nodding along
  • The same amount (34%) have found it difficult to follow conversations in noisy surroundings like restaurants or parties
  • Almost a quarter (24%) have found themselves asking people to repeat themselves
  • More than 1 in 10 (13%) say they have been told by their partner they think they might have a problem with their hearing
  • However, 83% have never taken any action in relation to their hearing, although 74% said they would be likely to take an online hearing check that is free and takes 3 minutes

The research was carried out in September 2022 by YouGov.

Many of us will recognise the situation: being in a social setting, struggling to hear what’s been said and instead of admitting it, smiling and nodding along – hoping that you laugh in the right places and make the right expressions. New research published today by national charity RNID highlights the extent to which millions of people in the UK – despite believing themselves to have good hearing – use coping mechanisms like this to deal with potential hearing loss.

RNID’s new ‘Check your hearing’ campaign is encouraging people to take a quick online check to find out more about their hearing health. The online check takes just three minutes, can be done on a laptop or phone and gives you a result straight to your inbox.

Crystal Rolfe, Associate Director for Health at RNID, said:

“Checking your hearing should feel as natural as having your eyesight or teeth checked, but we know a lot of people simply don’t know where to start. We want people to know that checking your hearing is actually really quick and easy to do yourself, in the comfort of your own home, using our online hearing check.

“Overall, 84 per cent of people we surveyed said they recognise that early diagnosis of hearing loss is important for health and wellbeing, yet less than a third of people said they know how to access a free hearing check if they needed one.

“Hearing loss can be slow to spot, but common signs include turning the TV up too loud, struggling to hear in noisy environments or having to ask people to repeat themselves. You might also feel that other people are mumbling, or find your partner complains that you don’t listen to them. If you regularly experience any of these signs, it’s a good idea to take our quick check so you’re not missing out on those important conversations.”

RNID Ambassador Samantha Baines © exposure photo agency

Samantha Baines, 35, is an award-winning comedian, actress, author, and RNID ambassador based in Kent. She went to her GP in her late twenties when she began to experience tinnitus at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and now uses a hearing aid in her right ear. She said: 

“Initially, I was totally shocked when I was told I had hearing loss in both ears and I worried that it would affect my career negatively. However, now I love my hearing aid and being deaf and it’s changed my life in such a positive way.

“Being part of the deaf community has given me so many new opportunities, like meeting some amazing people, becoming an author of children’s books with deaf protagonists and of course a charity ambassador for RNID. If you’re concerned about your hearing, don’t hold back or put off doing something about it. Do not to hesitate to check it if you are concerned, it’s painless and so easy to do especially with the new RNID tool. I wish I’d had a hearing test earlier”.

Abi Reynolds

Taking action on hearing loss can mean many things, from managing a build-up of wax to using technology to help; for Abi, from Norfolk, it meant getting some hearing aids. After taking action on her hearing loss Abi now feels ‘braver’ and ‘much less stressed’. She said:

“Getting hearing aids was a revelation as to how much I had been missing and although it took some time to adjust to them, it made me much less stressed with communication. Until that point I hadn’t really told anyone about my hearing loss, but now I feel much braver. I decided that I didn’t want to be embarrassed, so I went out of my way to let my friends and family know. I think some had probably guessed!”

“When I was 40 I started to realise that I was finding it harder to hear in noisy environments but I still seemed able to keep up with most conversations.  I didn’t realise I was relying on lipreading until I lost my glasses and was missing out on crucial information as well as office chat.

“I felt I was coping ok, but as time went on, I seemed to find it much harder and by the end of a working day in a busy office I was really tired. My hearing deteriorated and it was only after my partner pointed out that I was nodding and smiling but obviously had no clue what people were saying that I realised I had to face up to the fact that I was struggling.”

RNID recommend that anyone who is concerned about their hearing check it online. Crystal Rolfe said:

“Sometimes people think that only older people need to look after their hearing, but hearing loss can affect anyone of any age. As well as age related damage, hearing loss can be caused by overexposure to loud noise, certain medications that damage hearing, or even genetics. We want everyone to look after their ears in the way that they look after their eyes or their teeth, and take action if they have any concerns.”

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