Deaf Awareness Week: What Did We Learn?

Earlier this month, we celebrated Deaf Awareness Week, an important time to recognise hearing loss symptoms and raise awareness for those affected. So what did we learn from this important event, and how can GPs improve patient care in this area?

When it comes to hearing loss, GPs and medical professionals are in a position to recognise symptoms at an early stage, and doing so could help patients get the treatment and support they need as soon as possible. Find out why deaf awareness is important and what your practice can do to help.

Deaf Awareness Week 2019: what we learned

Deaf Awareness Week is an annual event that seeks to challenge the misconceptions around deafness and hearing loss. The aim of this year’s campaign was to raise awareness of the symptoms and provide better support and services to those affected.

Hearing loss affects a large number of people in the UK every year. Some key statistics around hearing loss indicate that 42% of people over 50 have some form of hearing impairment, while more than 800 babies each year are born deaf. In some instances, temporary hearing loss is caused by earwax build up, ear infection or a perforated eardrum, but these are easily managed and hearing usually returns.

Spotting the signs of deafness

Many people will experience symptoms of hearing loss, especially as they get older. By recognising the earlier signs, GPs are able to provide further testing to patients and offer solutions to improve their hearing.

Some of the common signs of deafness include the need to watch TV or listen to the radio at higher volumes, having difficulty hearing people and misunderstanding what people say. As a GP, being aware of these symptoms, as well as carrying out basic hearing checks, could help diagnose hearing loss earlier and steer patients towards the right support.

Providing support to patients

There are various steps your practice can take to provide support to patients. Deaf Awareness Week served as the perfect reminder to display leaflets and posters around your practice, discuss symptoms with your team, and make sure you know where to direct patients for the most effective help and treatment.

In areas where GP waiting times are a concern, Action for Hearing Loss have a hearing check that can be done over the phone to help patients assess whether further testing is needed.

In terms of treatment, there is a wealth of options available, including hearing aids and implants. Promoting the use of sign language is another way to help improve the lives of those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Ensuring there are adequate resources and support is something  Deaf Awareness Week is keen to encourage.

There are various ways your practice can improve support for deaf patients, such as providing mental health support, hosting support groups and taking part in initiatives such as Deaf Awareness Week every year. By making patients aware of the services on offer, early diagnosis rates can improve drastically.

Our health blog is a fantastic resource for medical professionals, exploring the current issues faced by GPs and their patients. Check back regularly to stay up-to-date with the latest news and information.