Three-minute fix . . . test your hearing

A generation of thirtysomethings is developing early-onset hearing loss thanks to an over-exposure to iPods and MP3 players, says Cheadle-based audiologist Michael Nolan. If you've got a spare three minutes, he suggests asking yourself five key questions to determine whether you've got a hearing problem.

"It's very quick and simple," says Nolan. Do you often ask people to repeat themselves? Do you have trouble understanding speech on the telephone or TV? Do you often think people don't enunciate enough? "People sometimes say, 'I don't understand what he's saying, because he's always mumbling,'" says Nolan, but it could be that you don't hear higher frequencies very well. Do you find it hard to understand the "soft" speech of children? Most importantly, do you find it hard to follow conversation in a crowded restaurant? "That's when people really know they've got a problem."

If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, says Nolan, "it's a strong indicator that you might have something that needs looking into." The best plan might be to get a free diagnostic checkup in a clinic.

Patrick Kingsley

• This article was amended on 20 April 2011 to remove a recommendation to take an online diagnostic test.

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