Outer Ear

Ever wondered what causes hearing loss? Read on.


What causes hearing loss?

Have you ever found yourself asking people to repeat? Or perhaps you know someone who does?

It's frustrating isn't it?!

That dreaded phrase. "What did you say there?"

Sometimes it is a command  "Say that again."

We even get the less structured, but still understandable "Catch you say what?"

So annoying that it makes your blood boil. Missing out on conversations particularly those with people who deserve the most care such as close family. Why should they have to suffer from the hearing loss too. Some relatives we know have even lost their voices from all that yelling.

Well, it's time that we at least learn about these hearing losses. What actually causes them? And, what can you do about it.

Nobody wants to suffer in silence.

"What causes hearing loss?"

That's the first question we always get. Many people come to speak to us and tell us they are having trouble hearing. We then have a look inside their ears and low and behold there is a huge dollop of ear wax. There we have our cause number 1.

Cause 1: Ear Wax.

"What is ear wax and why do I get it?" I hear you say? (okay I didn't hear you say that, but let me explain anyway)

Ear wax is a protective yellow substance that is excreted from your outer ear (also known as your ear canal).

The reason ear wax builds up is that that your ears, like any part of your body is always growing and changing. It gets rid of the old and brings in the new. And, in this case the old is skin cells and dirt inside your ear canal (see circle 2 in the photo below). Those old skin cells need a place to go and your body's intention is to get them out. What ingenious idea did it come up with to rid itself of these? Two words. Ear. Wax.

The ear wax is excreted from your ear canal and catches and sticks to the waste that your body wants rid of. It then slowly runs down your ear canal to freedom (the bottom of your ear canal where a typical shower or bath will get rid of this).

This sounds great! Ear Wax is good now right? Well sort of...

The problem with Ear Wax.

Although the purpose of the ear wax is too remove the wastage, sometimes there is a bit of a blockage.

If I was to use an analogy, think of ear wax as the bin bags in your home. You put all of your waste in the bin bags and then they get removed. BUT, if you forget to take them out then your home gets a bit messy. Imagine you ignored taking out your bins for years - you would struggle to walk through it all!

That is exactly what some people do when it comes to cleaning their ears. When they don't take out their bin bags (have a professional clean their ears), there is a big blockage and it makes it difficult for the sound to get through.Ear Buds No

There we go - our first cause of hearing loss is quite simply having ears that are blocked with wax.

In order to solve this, a lot of people use ear buds. They stick them into their ears and after seeing that they get a little bit of the wax, they think it does them good. However, in fact it really just pushes the wax in deeper - not what you want.

Another method that is often used and often referred to is called syringing. You may have heard of it before as it used to be the most common method used by doctors to remove ear wax.

However, in the past few years it has been discovered that the force of the syringe can cause perforations in the ears and as a result, many doctors are now reluctant to use this type of treatment.

Fortunately though, ear wax removal treatment has evolved. The use of a video otoscope and ear wax microsuction tool can safely and gently remove this wax without the need to use excessive oil.

Clicking here to find out more about Ear wax Removal.

Noise Scale


Ever been to a music concert where the noise feels uncomfortably loud? While you are there, it doesn't feel that bad. All of the people around you don't seem too bothered, so you carry on partying.

The next morning is a different story though. That ringing sensation is no coincidence.

Have a look at this guide on the right on the right and you'll be able to see what noise levels are healthy for certain time periods.

It is quite astonishing to see that disco and rock concerts are so high up there and the advised length of time to be in those situations where it can be deemed unsafe - causing sometimes permanent damage to the tiny hair cells in your Inner Ear.

Also notice other environments such as the use of heavy machinery for long periods of time that can also cause this damage too.

If in the past you have worked in a loud factory then this may also have caused a degree of loss too.

Cause 3: Illness

As we noted earlier, loud noises can cause damage to your Inner Ear hair cells, but that isn't the only way in which you may may suffer from additional damage.

Another case is through illness and there are a few of these that can cause significant damage which I will discuss below.


The first illness which we will go into is called Otosclerosis which affects the Middle Ear (number 4 for reference at the bottom of the page).  Otosclerosis affects the ability of the Middle Ear bones to conduct sound from your Outer Ear and is most often treated through surgery.

Ménière's disease

This is a rare disorder that affects the Inner Ear with symptoms that may include vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss and a feeling of pressure inside the ear.

The disease often goes through various stages with sudden and unpredictable attacks of vertigo, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. It is not uncommon to feel a loss of balance before or after these attacks happen. Permanent hearing loss and tinnitus may also develop as a result of these attacks.

At later stages, these episodes of vertigo may tend to occur less frequently, however the tinnitus and hearing loss often become worse.

Although the cause of ménière's disease is unknown, it is thought that it is related to a problem with pressure deep inside the ear.

Possible options for treating ménière's include:

  • Medicines to stabilise the attacks
  • Changes to your diet
  • Balance training
  • Relaxing treatments
  • Surgery

Ototoxic medications

Although the intention with some types of medicine is to provide you with an overall benefit to your health such as to rid your system of certain toxins, they can also have a detrimental impact upon other areas of your body such as your ears. The following medicines are examples of such medicines:

  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics
  • Salicylates in large quantities (aspirin)
  • Loop diuretics
  • Drugs used in chemotherapy regimens (cisplatin, carboplatin, or nitrogen mustard)

Cause 4: Head Trauma

There are a variety of incidents that can cause hearing loss. The most typical of which is a perforation in the eardrum which we discussed earlier can be caused by such treatments as syringing.

Cause 5: Aging

The most common form of hearing loss (and one that affects everyone over a given period of time) is aging.

The fact is that as you grow older, all of your cells in your body won't rejuvenate and repair as readily as they used to which is completely natural.

I like to relate hearing health in aging to going to the gym.

When you are in your 20s and 30s, your body feels it easiest to get into peak physical condition. It can repair muscles, take more strain and get back to a comfortable, healthy level even through periods of inactivity.

However, as you get older your body finds is less able to repair and when it hasn't exercised certain muscles in a long time, they will grow weaker - your ears are very similar to this!

A John Hopkins study found that without giving your ears the practice they need, that ears that have a slight loss will tend to fall down much further if they are not given the exercise required.

The Moral of the Story

We recommend a hearing consultation and check at least once per year to monitor where you are at so that you do not unknowingly lose out on the sounds you need to keep you hearing at your best.

Consider this:

A lot of people go to their optician every year or sometimes more often to monitor and maintain their eyesight, but they forget the importance of monitoring their hearing - a sense that you use just as much as your eyes and often more to communicate with others.

From my perspective, communication is one of the most important things that you can do in life. Many people talk, but few really LISTEN to others and when you don't listen, you can't interpret the tones that other people use when talking to you and therefore miss out on a huge amount of what they are actually saying.

I can't stress this enough, but getting an annual consultation and hearing check is so positive.

Reference point of your ear's anatomy
How Your Ear Works And Hearing Loss Causes


Worried about a relative’s hearing?

Here are some tips and suggestions to allow them to get the most out of life:

It’s their hearing loss, but you are both losing out

Think of your relative and the problems that they suffer from when it comes to their hearing:

  • Do they often ask you to repeat yourself?
  • Do they turn up the television louder than it should be?
  • Do they get lost in conversations at times?
  • Do they complain that people are mumbling?
  • Do they find it difficult when people are talking behind or around them?

While the hearing loss itself is a noticeable symptom, people forget that when you cannot communicate with one another clearly, you lose out on something so much more important. The connection you have between one another. You could argue that this is one of the most treasured and special things that you each share. So why let that treasure be spoiled?

Although they may not notice the hearing loss, they may need re-assured that it is very present.

The first step in treating hearing loss is acknowledging that it exists. FriendsTalk with them about the hearing loss and times that it has caused you both frustration. This is not an easy discussion, but a necessary one. Let them feel re-assured that they are not alone in the UK when it comes to hearing loss as it affects one in seven people and after treatment, their quality of life has improved substantially. The Hearing Clinic UK alone treats thousands of people per year.

The cause of the hearing loss may not just be related to noise exposure, it could also have come from many other sources such as aging, infections or just common illnesses.

A hearing safety check

Now that they know that they have an issue with their hearing and it is not just affecting them, but their relationship with you and others it is time to come along together to your nearest Hearing Clinic for a hearing safety check to give you both a full understanding of where you are at. This will involve a speech mapping analysis to see what words that they could be missing out on from your voice specifically when you speak.

The check is free and there is no obligation to buy anything. You can even request a demonstration of some of the latest solutions available.

If you need any more advice or support, we are always happy to answer questions.

Call our priority booking line now on 0333 320 7788 to organise your complimentary hearing check.


Hearing Assessment

3 Reasons you need to get a hearing health check

Hearing AssessmentDon't let your hearing fall into disrepair

Over the past 13 years of my career as an audiologist, I have realised the most important thing when it comes to hearing health is to get regular health check ups. Like any part of your body, when you leave it unmaintained, then it can fall into disrepair and hearing is very much the same.


Reason 1: Understanding what you've got

As the old saying goes, you never really know where you are going until you know where you are.

A hearing health check will allow you to see your hearing mapped out right in front of you; frequency by frequency. You'll be able to easily understand what frequencies still work well and also which ones have fallen down.

Not only that, but if you bring in a friend or family member who you speak with regularly, you'll have a chance to find out which words that you are hearing clearly and those that you aren't quite getting through an advanced speech mapping analysis.

The Hearing Health Check Report that you take away will allow you the understanding that when you do ask people to repeat, you'll know exactly why - is it their mumbling or is it your ears?

Reason 2: Knowing where you are goingHearing Map

Forecasting where your hearing is going is incredibly important. By attending an annual hearing check, you can chart the direction of frequencies that will be available in the future. Although everyone's hearing tends to come down as they get older due to noise exposure, illness and ageing, this analysis allows you to find out if the loss is at a worrying level.

As we mentioned earlier, a hearing check allows you to identify where you are. This is great, but even better is a forecast. Just as a captain of a ship will read their map to navigate away from rocks and icebergs that fall upon their trajectory, your hearing healthcare professional will point out to you where you are going so that you too can avoid losing the important sounds in your life.

Reason 3: Finding out what you can do to hear better

Many people are frustrated by the fact that they can't hear. They say "Oh, it's my hearing. It's come down a bit over the past few years". They can't hear the television clearly. They can't hear their partner, friends and family. They miss out on group conversations due to background noise, BUT they don't realise that there are options out there to allow them to re-engage in ALL OF THOSE SITUATIONS. Often these symptoms can be remedied very easily using a ear wax microsuction cleaning treatment, other times more assistance is required.

The most important thing though is to know for yourself and stay in control of your own health habits.

If you feel that you or someone you know could benefit from a hearing health check, then call us today and we'll be happy to see you.

Just call 0333 320 7788 and one of our friendly staff will talk you through the options available.

How I tackled 3 New Years Resolutions in 30 mins

Another new year is among us and trying to shoot for our Resolutions again. I thought I'd share how I conquered a huge part of them within 30 minutes.

1. 'Listen more to others'new-years-eve-2015-583216_1280

Many people I know opted for 'Listen more to others'. This is frankly my favourite one as I have been having memory issues recently. According to some sources I have read, by being more considerate and listening with more intent to the colour of peoples' conversations, the increased depth of your experience will cause a more memorable experience.

2. 'Improve my health'

I have thought about this one and decided that the best way to work on this is to get more fresh air. Going out for a healthy walk has made me feel great and I've been sharing that with a friend too in the evenings to have a good chat too.

3. 'Appreciate great music'

This New Years resolution isn't so popular, but I remember listening to lots of music when I was younger. I remembered dancing about looking ridiculous in the house and getting caught. Then, my partner would join in. It was a great laugh. Anyway, I wanted to get back into the swing of things so bought a new audio player, speakers and a whole bunch of my favourite music too.

The 30 minutes that helped with all of these

I was thinking to myself this Monday about my Resolutions and thought to myself "How can I get through all of these in a oner?"

I did a self-assessment and quickly realised that one aspect of my life linked all of these; my hearing! If I could hear richer sounds, I would remember things better. I would also enjoy conversations more and that would encourage me to go out for walks with my friend more. Lastly, if I enjoyed my music more, then I would listen to it more.

A little help from Martin Stone, my audiologist

I called my audiologist Martin to have a chat and see if there was anything he could do to help me achieve my resolutions as soon as possible. Although he was busy helping his patients,  the girl who answered the phone fit me into a slot  which was very convenient for me.

After a cup of coffee, in his clinic we were blethering away about the holidays. He told me that his brother was in South Africa soaking up the sun with his wife and her parents.

"What a way to escape the winter", I thought.

Martin then had a look in my ears using his video otoscope - I could see inside my ears too as it was on a big screen and there was a whole load of wax there which would explain a lot of things. I remembered that I was asking people to repeat a lot lately.

Completing his prognosis, he informed that wax was naturally occurring in my ears and is in fact a good thing for getting rid of dust and bacteria that collects in my ears. However, that when there is too much, it can cause some blockages.

My ear wax microsuction experience

Martin put on a special headset that had a light on the front and a magnifier so he could see in my ear canals clearly and turned on his microsuction machine. I heard a whirring noise as the suction began and he used a cone shaped piece to keep my canal open. After a few minutes on each ear they were both clear. He pulled out huge chunks of wax and I was astonished!

I could hear his voice much clearer now. Other noises sounded better too. I could hear the buses outside. I could hear some music that I liked playing in the reception. I was even tempted to dance!

The difference this made was incredible. I appreciated my partner's voice when we got home much more and we had a long discussion about where we would go on holiday next.

I am coming back at least every year now to make sure I am always hearing at my best.

NHS Hearing aids

Are you affected by NHS hearing aid cost cutting?

NHS Hearing aid cost cutting?

After austerity measures from the UK government, there are many departments which will be feeling the pinch.

Since 2011, ministers have demanded that £20bn in cuts be made over a 4 year period to reduce the UK's economic deficit. However, as we have come to find out, this has had a detrimental impact on the NHS's ability to deliver, particularly the audiology department that dispenses their NHS Hearing aids.

It has been reported that NHS patients in Devon who are looking for hearing aids will not longer get access to devices on both sides, limiting their dispensing to one side.

This decision has been made by the local NHS group as a second hearing aid was not seen as been cost effective enough.

Dr Tim Burke, chair of Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said “second hearing aids show far lesser cost effectiveness than the first."

One ear or two?

Like our vision, our hearing mechanism relies on input from both ears to locate sound sources. One ear simply cannot do the work of two. To achieve the most natural hearing experience, it is vital that both ears work equally well.

Two-ear hearing is called binaural. Recent studies show that those wearing two instruments understand more clearly and enjoy better sound.

The balancing act

Two ears make our hearing more balanced and enable us to determine which direction a sound is coming from, like the location of an oncoming car or the position of someone speaking to you.

Hearing with both ears is far more comfortable too. With both ears working together, less amplification is needed to hear everyday sounds and lower volume means less distraction background noise.

Seven reasons why people find two hearing aids better than one!

  • Better understanding in speech
  • Better understanding in a group or even in a noisy situation
  • Better ability to tell which direction sounds are coming from
  • Better sound qulity
  • Greater listening comfort
  • Hearing is less tiring and more pleasant
  • Keeping both ears active preserves speech understand in both ears

If you would like to discuss the full range of hearing device options with our experts, feel free to give us a call on
0333 320 7788

Hearing can

Future of hearing aids

Do you remember the days when the mobile phone came out?

It was this big clunky thing that looked a lot like a brick...

mobile phone vs brickSeriously, it really did!

The advantages that these mobile devices brought them were tremendous at the time - being able to talk to your friends and family from anywhere. It was a bit of a revolution. BUT, and it's a pretty big but, they looked dreadful. I mean, really awful. That's why they didn't take off all of a sudden.

Nowadays though, as technology has advanced, mobile phones have gotten a lot smaller and sleeker - well, let's just say most designs. The point is though that these are now mass market because they look good, they do what they need to (plus a lot more) and they make peoples' lives much more pleasant and efficient. Now that this technology has reached the advanced level, it leaves little place to go - it can get slightly smoother or faster, but each year the products tend to be quite similar.

Although the mobile phone revolution may have settled, there is a new series of device that is making incredible headway in the lifestyle market - the hearing aid.

The name itself is where a bit problematic in itself. 'Hearing Aid' - I need help with my hearing. Let's think back to the mobile phone. Did we ever call it the mobile communication aid? No. It's just your mobile. Alas,' Hearing aid' is the name that stuck and is most widely recognised by everyone. However, we see it as so much more.

At The Hearing Clinic UK, we have been part of the revolution of hearing aids for over 60 years. It's crazy that it's been that hearing canlong. My grandpa, Bert started offering hearing services in 1958 and the kind of devices he had in stock were, to be frank, BRICKS.  People had to literally wear the microphone around their waist in order to pickup sounds, and the receiver (the part that goes in your ear) wasn't much better either.

Now though, the revolution is well and truly upon us. Hearing devices are now slick - most, you can barely see; the quality of sound is superior and there are features that can be added that make your experience futuristic. You can even link your hearing device to your mobile phone wirelessly to process your calls. The best bit about this is that because your hearing device includes a microphone and a receiver already, the sound component of the call can all be processed through the hearing device.

Not only that, but the level of service that is available has completely changed. Would you expect a full consultation with an audiologist, a cup of coffee and luxury chocolates while you discuss your needs? This is the future.

If you would like to experience the future of hearing aids, please don't hesitate to call us on 0333 320 7788


Breaking News: Which finds local providers of hearing aids are best

Local providers of hearing aids are the best

With big advertising campaigns going on all around the country and 'brand spokesmen' to tout what they have to offer, many people look at the big high street hearing aid dispensers and say "they must be the best because they have a big marketing budget", but are soon disappointed.

The reason for this: These behemoth sized companies care most about getting lots of people in their doors then selling their wares in bulk - in bulk you ask? That means that they aren't tailored specifically to you. Why is that? This article will help explain.

Why local hearing aid providers are the best:

Personal Service

Going with a local, independent hearing provider has many benefits. Firstly, you are often treated like part of the family business with your hearing needs. Staff members will get to know you personally, both from a clinical side and also administratively. And only then; when your provider completely understands you are they able to deliver exactly what you need.

Consultative style approach

When it comes to your health, there is nothing more important than discussing what you need with a qualified expert. Quite often with big companies, they will look at their day like a manufacturing line, often charging just to ask a couple of questions.

We are different. If you feel that your hearing isn't always at its best, we don't charge to have a discussion. Look at it this way - is the problem any better after the discussion? No? well then we haven't earned our keep yet.

Wider range of services available

Many big companies solely focus on the sale of hearing aids. Again, we are different. Our focus is on enriching your life through better hearing whether that means helping you with your annoying tinnitus (ringing in the ear), removing any wax blockages or providing advanced noise protection.

Take a look below at the 'Which?' overview on the top providers:

Which? Report

To view the full report, click here


We are here for you - please feel free to give us a call on 0333 320 7788 to experience the local independent experience.

katie melua ears

Katie Melua finds spider in ears! - what is in your ears?

Katie M

People often feel uncomfortable when they have wax in their ears, but sometimes it is a little more than ear wax. In our Glasgow clinic, we have seen beads, rings, bugs - all sorts really.

To show that these blockages don't just happen to the public, Katie Melua posted:

"So I had a rustling in my ear for a week and went to the doctor. This little fella is what they found!"

She had in fact found a little spider in her ear that was alive when microsuctioned out, Katie then released the critter in her garden.

Have you got something bugging you in your ears? Perhaps it may just be wax, but let's be on the safe side.

Give us a call on 0333 320 7788 for details.

Helen Whipday image

Hearing Aid Demonstration - Glasgow Exclusive

Many people in Glasgow struggle with their hearing. They find that they can't hear their partner's voice quite so well. They can't hear the television very well and turn it up to make out what is being said; much to their friend and family's annoyance. At Christmas, they feel sit at the dinner table either stoney quiet or shout over everyone else causing frustration.

What many don't realise though is that these problems can be remedied much easier than they think. There are options out there that allow the twangs of the cutlery to be tuned out and the conversations that matter to be treasured.

You see, as technology has improved over the last few years, hearing devices have become far more powerful, both in terms of features and ability to amplify the important sounds around you. This means that an even closer match can be made between the boost and your hearing loss as well as giving you the control you want over the sounds around you.

We have an exclusive guest who is coming in on the 10th and 11th of December in Glasgow to talk through and even demonstrate these advanced devices.

Hearing aid demonstration - Glasgow ExclusiveHelen Whipday image

Helen Whipday can walk you through the major updates in the hearing device market, allowing you to notice the difference.

Don't miss out on the opportunity to have a one-to-one discussion with one of the most sought after practitioners in the industry.


Call us today on 0333 320 7788 to book your place now.

The Hearing Clinic UK Shortlisted for Family Business of the Year 2014

chris-martin-thcuk-uncompressedAfter a tremendous two years in business, Chris and Martin Stone have finally been acknowledged for their efforts in re-establishing The Hearing Clinic UK as a leader in the hearing industry.

As a result of their strong focus on personal care and achieving the best possible results for their patients, they have each been nominated for Young Business Person of the Year and Family Business of the Year 2014.

Chris Stone said "We feel extremely honoured to be nominated for these awards, particularly the Family Business award as we care for our staff and patients very dearly, considering them to be part of the family when they are with us."

Chris also exclaimed that he was pleased to be competing with his brother Martin, noting that some healthy competition goes a long way.


Glasgow Business Awards 2014 Banner