Audiology and audiovestibular medicine (hearing and balance service for adults and children)
Based at Epsom and St Helier hospitals, our Audiology team sees adults and children with:
- Hearing loss
- 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 offer a walk-in clinic for re-tubing every Tuesday from 10am - 12noon at Epsom Hospital, and every Thursday from 1pm - 3pm at St Helier Hospital.
We also offer a drop-off repair service for hearing aids - just leave your hearing aid at the audiology reception (first floor, Ferguson House at St Helier, and ground floor, Bradbury Wing at Epsom) and an audiologist will check it and repair it if required for collection within 48 hours.
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
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.
Please try not to bring other young children to your child’s appointment, as the room has to be silent for the test. If this is difficult, please try to bring a friend or family member, who can look after your other young children in our waiting area while your child’s hearing is tested.
For young children, please bring their ‘red book’ if you can.
- 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: Ground floor, block B
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).
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.
Fax: 020 8296 2704
Textphone: 07975 232 168
- To make or change an appointment, please call 020 8296 3490 (8.30am – 4.30pm).
Textphone: 07975 232 333
- Patient UK hearing tests information (opens in a new window)
- National Deaf Children’s Society (opens in a new window)
- Action on Hearing Loss (opens in a new window)
- Vestibular Disorders Association (opens in a new window)
- British Association of Audiovestibular Physicians (opens in a new window)
- Meniere’s Society (opens in a new window)
- Ear Foundation (opens in a new window)
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.
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.