Too often we take our hearing for granted. It is only when we can't hear the twitter of birds, the punchline of a joke, the television or the latest family gossip that we realise that we are missing out on life. Very often it is somebody else who notices.
With traffic, road works, mobile phones, car alarms, the drone of television and relentless background music in shopping centres, restaurants and pubs, there is rarely a quiet moment. Some of this 'toxic' noise may be loud enough, or prolonged enough, to damage our hearing.
In the UK, around 9 million, or one in seven, people have hearing problems. Only a quarter of those who could benefit from wearing hearing instruments actually wear them. What's more, it is estimated that it takes an average of 15 years for people who suspect that they have a hearing loss to finally decide to seek help.
There are many reasons for poor hearing and a hearing loss can be complex and very individual. The longer it is left untreated, the more difficult it is for the brain to retain the memory of sound.