More than half in NI have never had their hearing checked with common symptoms often ignored

Friday 8th December 2023

More than half in NI have never had their hearing checked with common symptoms often ignored
More than half in NI have never had their hearing checked with common symptoms often ignored
New study by Specsavers shows nearly over a fifth of those surveyed in NI have noticed changes to their hearing in the last decade, yet over half have never had their hearing checked
Almost half miss hearing a person’s name due to not being able to hear properly
Hearing experts are raising awareness of the main symptoms associated with hearing loss to help the nation notice any changes
Over a fifth (22%) of people in Northern Ireland have noticed negative changes to their hearing in the last decade – but a whopping 75% of them have not taken action to address those changes. That means that millions of us could be missing out on hearing our favourite sounds, TV shows and music properly – or even saying yes to things we didn’t mean to.
That’s according to new research from Specsavers, which also found that more than half of those surveyed from Northern Ireland (57%) have never had their hearing tested. This is despite 75% admitting they can’t hear conversations with background noise occurring, and more than a third (39%) confessing they have to ask people to speak louder or repeat themselves.
The survey also highlights the impact hearing loss is having on people’s day to day lives. Worryingly, 39% said they often said ‘yes’ without knowing what was being said to them and 7% have avoided social situations because of not being able to hear properly. 45% of those in NI said music would be the hardest sound to lose if they suffered with hearing loss, while more than a quarter (27%) said it’s nature sounds, like birdsong. Over half (58%) said the fear of losing the ability to hear music forever would be enough to encourage them to get a hearing test.
Exploring the other factors that prompt people to get their hearing tested, family and friends were identified as the most persuasive (27%). More than a third of those polled (33%) said that seeing hearing health being talked about more publicly would make them more likely to seek help. It comes as eighties music legend Rick Astley recently discovered he had some hearing loss after a hearing test at Specsavers and now has hearing aids.
To raise awareness of the common symptoms associated with hearing loss, Rick partnered with Specsavers to re-record his biggest hit, ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ with the lyrics people have misheard for years, including “Then I'm Gonna Run Around with Dessert Spoons”, “you wouldn’t catch nits from any other guy” and “your aunt’s been naked”. Rick has since spoken publicly about his hearing loss to help remove some of the stigma attached to the condition.
TV medic Dr Michael Mosley, who himself has also recently discovered he has some hearing loss, says: “While we now live in a world where lots of people feel comfortable talking openly about their health, some people still feel there is a stigma attached to certain conditions, and hearing loss is one of those.
“Hearing loss is completely normal and often a part of the ageing process, but – understandably – most of us want to feel as young as we can for as long as we can. “But it’s important to remember that hearing loss is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about - lots of people suffer from it regardless of their age or lifestyle. “Starting honest conversations about mental health and menopause are examples of health areas that have led to a shift in the stigma attached to them, and hearing loss is no different. It’s a natural process that happens to a lot of people, and there’s plenty of help out there.”
People polled by Specsavers, who had already received support with their hearing, said they’d re-discovered some of their favourite sounds including nature sounds (67%), music (33%), and TV and radio (17%)
“Part of the stigma around hearing loss is the fear of having to wear a hearing aid, but this shouldn’t be the case anymore. There have been so many advances in hearing aids – there is so much technology in these tiny devices. Ensuring hearing issues are identified early is key. As well as improving quality of life, early detection can also help prevent other conditions such as early-onset dementia.
In our poll and of those surveyed in Northern Ireland, 45% said that they would be encouraged to get a hearing test if they were free. At Specsavers, hearing tests are free. It’s also a misconception that hearing loss is just sounds getting quieter. Everyone’s hearing is different. Some people lose high notes, others lose low-frequency sounds. If you are experiencing changes, do book a free hearing test as there is lots that can be done to help and the sooner you take action, the more likely you are to minimise hearing loss.”
To find out more or to book a free hearing test, visit