Audiology and audiovestibular medicine (hearing and balance service for adults and children)

Information for patients attending the Audiology department.

May 2021 

We are running  face to face clinics for hearing aid repairs and re-tube.

We will only be seeing people that have appointments, please do not come to the hospital if you do not have an appointment. If you require hearing aid batteries please call 020 8296 3490 and we will post some to you.

If your hearing aid is not working, either call 020 8296 3490 to request an appointment or post it to us and we repair or replace it. If you are already on site for another appointment there is a drop-off box outside the department in Ferguson House where you can leave your hearing aid and we will post it back to you.

We understand that you may have concerns about attending your appointment in the hospital. Please see the measures we are taking below to ensure your safety and that of our staff.

  • We will maintain social distancing where ever possible.
  • We have reduced the amount of people we see in each session.
  • We ask that you attend alone or with just one other person.

Please arrive on time for your appointment, if you arrive more than 10 minutes before your appointment time you may be asked to wait outside. If you arrive more than 10 minutes late for your appointment we may not be able to complete your appointment or see you at all.

We will only see patients by appointment and we will not be running any group or drop in sessions.

Important notice:

Retube walk in clinics are cancelled until further notice. These clinics were taking place every Tuesday between 10am - 12noon at Epsom Hospital, and every Thursday from 1pm - 3pm at St Helier Hospital. Thank you for your patience.

Staff will be wearing masks and occasionally face visors for protection. You will be asked to arrive wearing a suitable face covering or mask which you will need to keep on during your appointment. 

Please read the below document for tips on keeping hearing aids secure whilst wearing your mask:

Top 10 tips for keeping your hearing aids secure whilst wearing a face mask [pdf] 271KB

For Paediatric Audiology appointments

Staff will be wearing masks and occasionally face visors for protection. Accompanying adults and older children will be asked to arrive wearing a suitable face covering or mask which will need to be kept on during the appointment.

We will only see patients by appointment and we will not be running any group or drop in sessions.

Please do not attend if you or a member of your household has or have in the last 14 days, had any of the symptoms of COVID-19: a new and persistent cough, a high temperature or fever, a sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell.

If you are unable to attend your appointment for any reason or, you do not want to attend at this time, please call us on 020 8296 3490 to rearrange or cancel.

During your appointment it may be necessary to be closer than 2 metres from you in order to carry out certain procedures or tests. 

 

Based at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, our Audiology team sees adults and children with:

  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Other hearing difficulties, eg hyperacusis.

The department also provides:

  • Medical assessment, investigation and treatment
  • Hearing aids
  • Hearing therapy
    • For hearing difficulty
    • For tinnitus
    • For balance (vestibular) rehabilitation
  • Private hearing aids.

We also offer a drop-off repair service for hearing aids - Please post your hearing aid( using  the envelope provided) in the box outside the department at St Helier.  An Audiologist will check it and repair it if required . We will post it back to you.

Information on hearing and balance tests

As part of your consultation in the audiology department, you may have hearing or balance tests.

Before your appointment

Adults:

Hearing tests are carried out for all hearing and balance patients. It is important for your ears to be checked for wax before your appointment so that this can be removed at your local GP surgery before your hearing test.

Please bring a list of current medications, and any audiology clinic letters and tests results received from other hospitals.

Children:

Please do not bring other children to your child’s appointment. We also request that only one parent /carer accompany the child into their appointment.

For young children, please bring their ‘red book’ if you can.

Key staff

  • Nicola Charlton, Head of Adult Audiology
  • Dr Sreedharan Vijayanand, Dr Vasuky Sriskandarajah, Dr Simone Walter and Dr Wendy Albuquerque, consultant audiovestibular physicians 
  • Lucie McLellan, Head of Paediatric Audiology
  • Mariam Moghal (St Helier Hospital) and Victoria Musgrove (Epsom Hospital), senior hearing therapists.

Location and opening hours

Epsom Hospital: Oaks Annexe, Ground floor, corridor between Headley Wing and B Block

St Helier Hospital: The main Audiology department is located on the first floor of F block (Ferguson House). Our children's hearing unit is located on the ground floor of Queen Mary's Hospital for Children. Read more about the opening of our children's hearing unit

The service is open Monday - Thursday between 8.30am - 12.30pm and 1pm - 4.30pm, and on Fridays from 8.30am - 12.30pm and 1pm - 4pm (except bank holidays). 

Contact details

St Helier Hospital

  • To speak to the receptionist or to make a repair appointment, please call 020 8296 2911 (Monday - Friday, 8.30am - 12.30pm and 1pm - 4pm)
  • To speak to the audiology appointments team, call 020 8296 3490 (Monday - Friday, 8.30am - 4.30pm)

If you reach voicemail please leave your contact details and a message. We will get back to you within one working day.

Email: audiology-sth@nhs.net

Textphone: 07975 232 168

Epsom Hospital

  • To make or change an appointment, please call 020 8296 3490 (8.30am – 4.30pm).

Email: audiology-sth@nhs.net

Textphone: 07975 232 333

More information

Hearing tests

Pure tone audiometry (15 mins)

Is a hearing test to find the quietest sounds that you can hear. Different sounds are presented through headphones or a headband. You are asked to respond to the sounds by pressing a button when you hear them.

Tympanometry (5 mins)

Whilst you are sitting still a soft tipped probe is placed in your ear canal and pressure changes show how the ear drum and middle ear are working.

Acoustic reflex threshold (10 mins)

Short bursts of sound are presented through a soft tipped probe placed in your ear canal to check the working of the small, middle ear muscle.

Eustachian tube function test (10 mins)

A soft tipped probe is placed in the ear canal and records the movement of the ear drum before and after swallowing a sip of water. The Eustachian tube links the middle ear to the back of the throat and serves as a vent to equalise pressure between the atmosphere and the middle ear.

Oto-acoustic emission test (10 mins)

A clicking sound is presented to your ear through a soft probe placed in the outer part of your ear. The probe then records the reflection of sound back from the inner ear .

Speech audiometry (20 mins)

To check how well you can hear speech sounds some words will be presented to each ear in turn through headphones and you will be asked to repeat what you hear. The words are presented at medium, loud and quiet levels.   

Auditory brainstem response (ABR) test (20 mins)

This test examines the nerve of hearing as part of the hearing pathway to the brain. Sensors are placed on the skin behind your ears, on your forehead and on the top of your head.

You will then be asked to lie or sit on a couch with your eyes closed and be as relaxed as possible. Headphones will present a loud clicking noise to one ear and a rushing sound in the other. We will be measuring time taken for the sound to get to your brain and will this be repeated for both ears.

Balance tests

These tests are designed to test the function of your balance system located in the inner ears. The brain uses the information from the balance organs together with information from your eyes.

We will be looking at or recording eye movement to help us investigate your balance system.

Video-nystagmography (VNG) (20 mins)

The tests will be carried out whilst you are sitting on a couch wearing video goggles to record the eye movement. Some of the tests are carried out in the dark. Initially you will be asked to look at a small red light on a bar in front of you and follow it as instructed.

You will be asked to use your eyes to follow a red light moving from side to side in front of you and to count lights as they go past a central point at varying speeds

Caloric test (25 mins)

This important test helps determine any difference between the balance function of each ear. Eye movement will be recorded with a camera.

The test is performed whilst you are lying on a couch and by irrigating the outer part of the ear with water 7 degrees C above and then 7 degrees C below body temperature for each ear.

This change in temperature changes the density of the inner ear fluid and gives you a sense of rotation/dizziness resulting in eye movement known as nystagmus. It is this nystagmus that we are looking to observe and which lasts for a couple of minutes before gradually fading away.

Dix Hallpike Manoeuvre (10 mins)

Accumulation of calcium carbonate particles in parts of the inner ear can lead to positionally induced dizziness often occurring whilst turning in bed or looking up or down.

The Dix Hallpike manoeuvre enables us to determine whether dizziness is caused as a result of the above pathology. To carry out the test, doctor will lie the patient down quickly to stimulate the balance system, and eye movements will be observed , you may feel dizzy during this procedure.

The particles can be then repositioned to treat the problem.

Vestibular-Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP) (25 mins)

This a special balance test.  Three sensors are placed on the skin: on the forehead, on the neck muscle, and on the collar bone. Some sounds are played via headphones, whilst you turn your head to the side to activate your neck muscle. The activity in the neck muscle is recorded to show the function of the balance system.

 

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