Medical Q&As

Hearing test - where do I go?

I have been suffering with my ears for over a year now. I think I might have a hearing problem. When it starts to annoy me I start pulling at my ear and next thing it's infected. So I go to my GP. This has been happening for some time and is costing me a fortune and not getting any better, I have now just cleared up another infection and am back to square one. I rang the Eye and Ear hospital to get an appointment as I feel I need a hearing test, but I have to be referred by my doctor first. Is there anywhere else I can get my hearing checked without a GP referral?

I think that you should request a second opinion because you seem to be particularly frustrated by your ongoing difficulties with your ears. The only way that this can be arranged under our system of health care is through GP referral. Your question suggests that you may have some recurring irritation of your outer ear, which could be due to eczema. This could contribute to deafness because of the clogging up of the outer ear with debris from the eczema. You also refer to repeated episodes of infection, which could be occurring in either the outer or middle ear. Such infections can cause temporary forms of deafness. Thirdly your hearing loss could be due to defects in the inner ear. Perhaps your occupation exposes you to high levels of industrial noise, which can adversely affect your perception of high tone frequencies. I donít think that testing your hearing would of itself be a sufficient assessment of your ear problems. Your ongoing ear problems and hearing loss need to be comprehensively addressed and I would recommend that you discuss this with your GP and arrange to be seen by a doctor specialising in ear, nose and throat problems. Measurement of hearing loss would be an important element in that assessment but on its own it would be an inadequate response to your ongoing difficulty.