March 3, 2020 – World Hearing Day

March 2, 2020

What is World Hearing Day

World Hearing Day is held on 3 March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. Each year, the World Health Organization decides the theme and develops a brochure on the topic based on the best available evidence as well as advocacy materials such as posters, banners, infographics and presentations, among others.

World Hearing Day 2020

Hearing for Life: don’t let hearing loss limit you!

On World Hearing Day 2020, WHO will highlight that timely and effective interventions can ensure that people with hearing loss are able to achieve their full potential. It will draw attention to the options available in this respect.

World Hearing Day

Key messages for World Hearing Day 2020:

  • At all life stages, communication and good hearing health connect us to each other, our communities, and the world.
  • For those who have hearing loss, appropriate and timely interventions can facilitate access to education, employment and communication.
  • Globally, there is lack of access to interventions to address hearing loss, such as hearing aids. Learn more about hearing loss prevention
  • Early intervention should be made available through the health systems similar to ProtectEar dB Cares program.

At its headquarters in Geneva, WHO organizes an annual World Hearing Day seminar. In recent years, an increasing number of Member States and other partner agencies have joined World Hearing Day by hosting a range of activities and events in their countries. WHO invites all stakeholders to join this global initiative.


Learn more: https://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/world-hearing-day/en/

New law allowing motorcyclists to wear earplugs – Ohio

February 26, 2020

DeWine, Ohio signs law allowing motorcyclists to wear earplugs

motorcycle riders

Some riders didn’t know that it is currently illegal to use earplugs when they ride

This summer, motorcycle riders will legally be able to use earplugs when they ride in Ohio. The new law goes into effect in 90 days.

Gov. Mike DeWine signed the bill into law Friday that allows for the use of earplugs or earphones for hearing protection. Devices that provide entertainment will still be prohibited.​ Some riders didn’t know that it is currently illegal to use earplugs when they ride. They say they use earplugs to lower the decibel level assaulting their hearing as they ride.​

Noise impact on Motorcycle Riders

Several things contribute to the noise riders have to deal with, including the engine and exhaust systems of the bike. While they are traveling, the sound of the air passing by their ears creates noise as well.​ Those that use earplugs said wearing them helps them hear better than they would without using the devices. They claim to be able to hear low bass and high treble sounds easier.​

dB All Sport™ for Motorcycle Riders 

Protect Ear’s dB All Sport™ lets you hear the full range of your recording even at highway speeds.

This ear protector is built for the rider who wants to listen to their digital music player or radio, All Sport™ is the ideal way to take your tunes on the road. All Sport™ is a headset that connects to your digital music player and is specially designed to work in the harsh environment bikers endure. Wind noise, bike rumble, and traffic sounds compound to make listening to radio or music a challenge while riding.

The All Sport™ uses dB Blocker® Technology giving you extremely comfortable isolation from wind noise, bike growl and the quality music sounds of specially tuned dual stereo transducers. The sound reaches the protector through sound tubes that pass over the ear. This over-the-ear design allows for use with either full face or 1/2 shell helmets. It also allows for your All Sport™ to be easily repaired if you damage them. Learn more about the All Sport.

motorcycle riders

Riders who’ve been using earplugs for years say this bill is long overdue and is appreciated.​ When DeWine was asked if he was interested in pursuing a helmet law next, he told reporters he was not going to talk about that at the current time.​

 


Source

Hearing loss in football: Two former NFL stars share their stories

February 10, 2020

Hearing loss in football: Two former NFL stars share their stories

For players and fans alike, football stadiums can be detrimental to healthy hearing. The roar of a packed football stadium is part of what makes the sport so special. But there’s a downside.

For football fans, a thunderous stadium is part of the experience: There’s no feeling quite like stomping your feet in unison with 100,000 people as hype music booms from loudspeakers, the venue trembling as your team rushes onto the field. 

Die-hard football lovers will tell you this experience is like no other. Ball games brim with emotion — euphoria if your team is winning, dread if they’re not — and that emotion is expressed through yelling, clapping, stomping, chanting and singing. It’s compounded by speakers blaring and announcers, well, announcing. 

Fun? Undoubtedly. Good for your ears? Not so much. 

Football stadiums are some of the loudest places the average person goes to, ringing in at decibel levels as high as 142.2 — nearly as loud as a jet at take-off

The dangers of noisy environments are often overshadowed by pleasure and cultural significance, an unfortunate fact because attending events like football games is often a driver behind hearing loss

I’m not here to rain on anyone’s ball game, but take it from the pros: Terry Hanratty, former NFL quarterback and two-time Super Bowl winner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Reed Doughty, former NFL safety with Washington, both of whom struggle with hearing loss today. 

Here, they share their stories. 

Hearing loss in football

“I thought I had perfect hearing,” Hanratty tells me. But as it turns out — and evidenced by his wife’s perpetual despair at the TV volume — Hanratty did not. 

Hanratty and Doughty both suffer from sensorineural hearing loss, though different in nature. According to Hanratty’s audiologist, Dr. Nancy Datino, his hearing loss “could be due to noise exposure over time … but also could also be a result of a combined degeneration from aging or perhaps nerve damage from the head trauma he experienced as a professional football player.”

Reed Doughty, former NFL safety, getting fitted for hearing aids.

Doughty, on the other hand, was diagnosed with a hereditary type of sensorineural hearing loss at age 6. He has nerve degeneration in his ears, a progressive condition that will continue to worsen over time. 

Despite the differences in their conditions, Doughty and Hanratty have much in common: Both players eventually realized that their hearing loss was affecting their day-to-day lives, sought treatment and got hearing aids, and now spend a great deal of time educating the public on the dangers of loud environments and untreated hearing loss.

These may be two of the few former NFL athletes who actively promote hearing health awareness, but they are far from alone in their hearing loss — according to a 2014 study by Loyola University, retired NFL players may be at risk of permanent hearing loss and tinnitus, partly due to head trauma sustained during play. (Head trauma from playing football can also lead to many other kinds of injuries, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.)

And with the average noise level of a sports stadium sitting at 100 decibels, it’s possible to sustain enough damage to cause hearing loss in just 15 minutes.  

The defining moment

For both athletes, there was a defining moment that pushed them to finally seek treatment for hearing loss. 

Doughty recalls his rookie year with Washington in the team’s meeting room, “My coach had his back to me at the whiteboard, explaining some new defenses we were putting in. I was a 4.0 student in college and I was supposed to be a smart guy, but I kept making mistakes on the field.”

Doughty says he’d ask his coach, “When did you say that? I didn’t hear anyone talk about [the new play].” Doughty’s coach told him to get his hearing checked, so Doughty, years after being diagnosed with hearing loss, finally got hearing aids. 

Hanratty’s moment came after his football career had already ended. He’d experienced a ringing in his ears for over a month, which he later found out was tinnitus, and hadn’t really planned to do anything about it until the NFL Retired Players’ Association invited him to get a comprehensive physical exam. 

“It’s a really cool thing; this is one of those executive physicals where you get to see about eight different doctors,” Hanratty says. “Yet there was nothing in the physical about hearing.” 

The players did get a form, however, on which they could write down anything they particularly wanted to get checked out. Hanratty took this opportunity to get his hearing checked and, as fate would have it, the doctor informed him that he needed hearing aids. 

Since then, Hanratty says, the NFL has added hearing checks as part of routine physicals. 

The ambiguity of loudness

Part of the problem, Signia audiologist Dr. Eric Branda tells CNET, is that people simply don’t recognize the level of sound they subject themselves to. Most people don’t think twice about sitting in a 100-decibel football stadium for four hours or jamming out at a 120-decibel rock concert.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, normal everyday conversation averages about 60 decibels. Football games and other loud events can easily reach nearly double that level of sound — yet most attendees don’t bother with any sort of ear protection. 

The fun factor of football overshadows the danger of loud stadiums. No one is telling sports fans to stop attending games, but hearing professionals and athletes with hearing loss want to create awareness. 

Additionally, many people don’t really pay attention to the volume of music playing through their headphones or the volume on their TVs. Other unsuspecting but contributing scenarios that can damage your hearing include taking off in an airplane, going to the movie theater, doing yard work, standing in the subway as subway cars rush past and so much more. 

This isn’t to say that you should walk around with earplugs in 24/7, Branda says, but you should be aware of your surroundings and take control when you can, and leave a loud environment or put in earplugs at a concert. 

Branda uses a helpful rule of thumb: “It’s probably too loud if I have to shout in order to be heard.” 

The stigma of hearing loss

“There’s a stigma with hearing loss,” Doughty says. “With glasses, you can wear them as part of your look and be stylish, but people don’t feel the same way about hearing aids.” 

Hearing loss is often discounted as a problem that’s shrugged off with phrases such as “he’s just old” or “she only hears what she wants to hear.” Some people with hearing loss feel like they’re made out to be dumb, so they hide the fact that they have trouble hearing. This is troublesome, because life can depend on the ability to hear — think of sirens, alarms and warning shouts.

The design of hearing aids has evolved in the last few years, from bulky designs that fit over your ear to smaller models that fit in your ear.

Yet the stigma persists, and it discourages many people with hearing loss from getting hearing aids.

“When you talk about hearing aids, people tend to picture grandpa in his armchair in the corner with some sort of contraption on his head,” says Hanratty. 

But that’s no longer the case. Hearing aids are now discreeteffective and connected. You can find ones that look more or less like a good pair of earbuds. “There is truly no excuse not to get them if you need them, especially when you know how much they can help your relationships and your career,” says Doughty.

Hanratty concurs: “I walk the streets of Manhattan and I see everyone with something hanging out of their ears. Earbuds, headphones, AirPods, whatever it is … Everyone’s got something in their ears anyway.”

Another way to overcome that stigma is to think of your hearing as an important part of your overall health, just like your heart rate or blood pressure.

Risks of untreated hearing loss

Hearing loss ultimately affects your ability to communicate, Branda explains. Hearing loss can cause relationship strains, social intimidation and anxiety. 

Hanratty puts it into perspective: “If you can’t hear, you start to withdraw from society. You don’t want to go to the movies because you can’t hear it. You don’t want to go to dinner because you can’t hear anything. You don’t want to invite people over because you can’t hear them.” 

“It gets frustrating for friends and families to repeat themselves all the time,” Branda says, which can lead to resentment for either party or both, “and it really just creates a difficult situation.”

Hearing loss can also affect performance at work, at school and in sports and recreational activities. Branda says that people with hearing loss might withdraw from society, allow responsibilities to pile up (such as unanswered phone calls and past-due appointments) and even exhibit characteristics of depression. 

In these ways, hearing loss is far more obvious to people around you than wearing hearing aids, Branda says. 

Perhaps the most frightening risk of untreated hearing loss is dementia. Adults with hearing loss are at a greater risk for dementia, Branda says, and research has found that the rate of cognitive decline in older adults is directly related to the level of hearing loss.

What you can do

As with most health complications, prevention is key. Knowing how loud is too loud is half of the battle, but you can start by studying up on some common sounds and their decibel levels, as well as how long it’s safe to listen to different decibels. The CDC has a handy guide to decibels and common sounds.

For example, the sound of the average hair dryer can reach 85 decibels — a level that can cause hearing loss after two hours of exposure. But there’s no need to worry about your hair dryer, Branda says, because hopefully you aren’t blow-drying your hair for two hours each day. 

If you have an Apple Watch, the built-in Noise app can give you some guidance when you find yourself in noisy environments. It’ll ping you when background noise rises above a certain threshold and give you tips, like perhaps you should consider moving farther away from the origin of the sound. 

If you know you’re going to be in a loud environment, consider wearing ear protection. The type can vary based on the particular environment and your preferences. Discreet ear plugs might be best for a football game, for example, while protective ear muffs are great for a shooting range and noise-canceling headphones work to drown out the rumble of an airplane. 

On top of everyday prevention, be sure to get your hearing checked regularly. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, healthy individuals aged 18-64 who don’t have noticeable hearing loss or complications should get their hearing checked every three to five years.

Hanratty emphasizes that hearing check-ups are not part of a normal annual physical from your primary care doctor. “When you go get your physical, you get your ears checked, but not your hearing,” Hanratty says. “You need to see a separate doctor — an audiologist — to make sure your hearing is normal and healthy.”

If you’re wondering if you need a hearing test, take this quiz by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

If you know you’ll be in a loud environment, such as on an airplane, protect your ears with noise-canceling headphones, ear muffs or ear plugs.

How you can help friends and family with hearing loss

If you know people who have difficulty hearing, you can help in a few ways. Try these tips from Branda: 

  • Speak clearly and help them read your lips.
  • Keep rooms bright so they can see you talking.
  • Talk slightly slower so they can process the sounds.
  • Give them a little bit of time to process your sentence before you move onto your next thought.
  • Have conversations in the same room, don’t yell up the stairs or into different rooms.
  • Avoid the noisiest areas and minimize distractions.
  • If it seems like they’re misunderstanding, try rephrasing; a new word might make all the difference.
  • Try not to bounce around different topics.

SOURCE: https://www.cnet.com/news/hearing-loss-in-football-two-former-nfl-stars-share-their-stories/

Watch those ears!

January 6, 2020

Watch those ears at yesterdays game

You won’t believe how loud it gets in the Dome!

The Super Dome is always loud and proud.  But can all that cheering and screaming be hazardous to your hearing?

“Last year for Rams game we were at 128 decibels!” Says Jamie Pierre with Ochsner.  She tells WWL-TV that’s like standing under a fighter plane taking off from an aircraft carrier.

Can being exposed to all that cheering in the Dome really have an impact?

“Your risk to experiencing hearing loss as a spectator is expected to be little less than someone working an eight hour shift at a noisy factory,” Pierre says. So yes, the Dome’s roaring crowds can have effects on your hearing:

“If you do have a hearing loss, then what will is the good hearing that you might have left, or even any hearing you may have, you’re at risk for making that hearing loss worse.”

Pierre cautions fans to take care against damaging their hearing.  She says wear ear plugs:

“They’re very small, they’re discreet and they’re very good for you.”

Pierre also emphasizes protecting children’s hearing by covering their ears with earmuffs.

It was 2013 when the decibel level at the Dome came just short of the loudest crowd roar on record.

So you heard it hear folks! Protect those ears.. 


Source

https://wwl.radio.com/articles/watch-those-ears-at-todays-game

OSHA FACT SHEET

December 30, 2019

Laboratory Safety Noise

Millions of workers are exposed to dangerous levels of noise in their workplaces. Over the past 20 years, government agencies have consistently identified noise induced hearing loss as one of the top concerns of workers. Noise in laboratories is a growing concern.

Because of concern about noise in clinical laboratories, accrediting agencies are implementing special emphasis programs on noise reduction in these workplaces. As a result of this concern, the College of American Pathologists added laboratory noise evaluation to their General Checklist for Accreditation.

DOWNLOAD OSHA FACT SHEET


SOURCE

www.osha.govOSHA

Is Technology Use Is Damaging our Children’s Hearing?

December 19, 2019

U.S. Parents Worry Popular Technology Use Is Damaging Their Children’s Hearing But Still Plan to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

ASHA Shares “Safe Listening” Advice This Cyber Week

ROCKVILLE, Md. (December 3, 2019) A new national poll of more than 1,100 parents of children under age 18 finds that seven in 10 parents are concerned about their child developing hearing damage from listening to popular technology devices such as music players, tablets, and smartphones—and 86% think their children listen to their devices at volumes that are too loud.

Commissioned by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and conducted by YouGov November 1–5, 2019, the polling also shows that despite concerns, over half of parents plan to purchase a tech-related gift for their child this holiday season.

“With the holiday shopping season in full swing, many parents are purchasing personal technology devices as well as related accessories such as earbuds or headphones for their kids,” said Shari Robertson, PhD, CCC-SLP, ASHA 2019 President. “For us, this is the ideal time to encourage smart shopping habits for parents as well as offer safe listening advice they can impart to kids as they give them these gifts.”


Source

https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8460154-asha-safe-listening-tips-holiday-poll/

Holiday Safe Listening: Noisy Technology, Toys and Places

December 17, 2019

Holiday Safe Listening: Noisy Technology, Toys and Places

Between new technology gifts (used with earbuds or headphones), noisy toys, and loud holiday parties and concerts, the holiday season brings welcome revelry but also a lot of noise.

Read on for more information—and download and share these resources with your family, friends, and clients/patients to help encourage the public to protect their hearing.


Safe Listening Tips: Holiday Gifts and Hearing Protection

Buying a tech gift for your child this holiday season? More than 1 billion young people worldwide are at risk of developing hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices from noisy technology and leisure settings. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association offers three easy tips to teach safe listening and help kids protect their hearing.

Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention Resources – please share!

December 9, 2019

Noise and Hearing Loss Prevention

Loud noise can damage hearing or cause permanent hearing loss. Dangerous noise levels can be found in workplaces such as industrial, commercial and retail and  recreational settings like restaurants, stadiums, and clubs; in the classroom; or even on our own personal audio devices.

hear in nose

What is a safe noise level?

We record noise levels in decibels, or dBA. The higher the noise level, the louder the noise.

You can listen to sounds at 70 dBA or lower for as long as you want. Sounds at 85 dBA can lead to hearing loss if you listen to them for more than 8 hours at a time. For personal listening devices, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a volume of no more than 80 dBA for adults and 75 dBA for children.

WHO Standard for Safe Listening

Hearing

ASHA Resources for Hearing Loss Prevention

How ASHA Promotes Hearing Health

Besides the resources above, ASHA is very active in promoting hearing health and raising the profile of hearing issues on many domestic and international fronts.

Domestically:

  • From the first days of digital media, ASHA has been a national leader raising concerns about the potential impact of unhealthy personal audio device use. For a decade, ASHA’s Listen to Your Buds campaign put on “safe listening concerts” in schools nationwide to educate children about hearing health.
  • ASHA’s Healthy Communication & Popular Technology Initiative focuses on raising public awareness about the importance of healthy usage of personal audio devices.
  • Launched in 2013, ASHA’s Identify the Signs campaign is dedicated to educating the public about the warning signs of communication disorders and the importance of acting quickly at the first sign of trouble.
  • In 2011, ASHA partnered with AARP in assessing the hearing health of its members; polling indicated a significant degree of untreated hearing loss and led to ASHA’s Speak Up for Hearing Loss national campaign that encouraged people to seek professional guidance and help with hearing care.

Internationally:

  • At WHO’s request, ASHA serves as an ongoing advisor on the Make Listening Safe campaign, a WHO initiative that produced the first global standard for safe listening on personal devices.
  • ASHA is a member of the World Hearing Forum, a WHO-established global network of stakeholders dedicated to promoting ear and hearing care worldwide.
  • Through a digital campaign, ASHA participates annually in World Hearing Day (March 3), raising awareness and educating the public about hearing-related issues.
  • ASHA is a founder of the International Communication Project, which is dedicated to raising the profile of communication disorders with global policymakers.

To learn more about hearing protection and hearing conservation check out our resources:

Custom Protect Ear Hearing Resources

Hearing Protection 

Hearing Conservation 

NOISE-RELATED HEARING LOSS VIDEO (See below)


SOURCE

https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Noise-and-Hearing-Loss-Prevention/

Hazard Hearing Environments-Metal Fabrication

November 26, 2019

When mobile workers in lean shops move into and out of noise-hazardous areas, they can’t simply wear maximum protection at all times to block out every hazardous noise.

Here are some tips on selecting the right protector for any situation that can solve these problems.
Despite the ongoing industry-wide attention and investment in hearing conservation programs and engineering solutions, extreme noise levels and the potential for noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) are still being encountered by workers throughout the metal fabrication industry. A properly fitted foam earplug provides a simple solution for the highest level of protection, recommended where exposure to potentially damaging levels of noise may be encountered. A wide variety of foam earplug shapes and sizes are offered, however foam ear plugs are not always the safest and most reliable protection for your ears.  Over the past few years, we are seeing a shift in Occupational Health and Safety persuading workers and managers to adopt custom, personal or moulded hearing protection. To learn some tips for achieving the best possible fit of hearing protection see below.

If dirty or gloved hands make use of a roll-down foam earplug difficult, consider a hearing protector with a stem. Even some foam earplugs and custom ear plugs include a stem for insertion like the dB Blocker Grip. The new dB Blocker Grip innovative design targets industries where dirt, grime and larger hands may be an issue.

The new Grip’s non-slip integrated handle is formed in a single piece of dB Blocker silicone in order to deliver hassle-free ease of insertion screen-shot-2016-09-27-at-12-20-50-pmand removal. Learn more.  

Multiple-use hearing protection often make the best option for intermittent noise levels, or for situations where levels may require raised voices for clear communication. These protectors can be quickly and easily removed or replaced as hazardous noise levels increase or subside. Multiple-use models are usually available in a variety of shapes and sizes to match the variations in users’ ear canals.

Ear muffs can be used either alone or with insertable hearing protection of some type. In general, the larger the earcup of the muff, the greater the attenuation or lessening of the noise. The rule of thumb for dual protection is to add 5 dB to the attenuation of the hearing protection for the use of an earmuff in combination. Generally the earplug or ear mold is the more variable fit.

Where both hearing protection and clear communications are required, modern PPE technology offers two types of solutions. (Both beat the “old school” answer to this situation, wherein workers in a noisy environment just take out their earplugs whenever someone speaks to them. For obvious reasons, this is not a recommended solution. That is why more workers are wearing dB Blockers as its hearing protection you can hear through. The proprietary frequency tuned filter allows interpersonal communication without removal. People can communicate in noise better while wearing their dB Blockers™ hearing protectors than if they were to remove them. Your hearing loss prevention program will not interfere with productivity. Learn more. 

productive workers

For the most technologically sophisticated solution, consider a communication system. This advanced device incorporates hearing protection, active noise reduction, and voice signal amplification. It’s recommended where clear communication is critical, as in workplaces where misunderstanding a verbal communication could cause an injury or even a fatality.

In lean manufacturing, as more workers become mobile and move between or into and out of noise-hazardous areas, challenges with mobile workers present unknown exposure levels, uncertain availability of protection equipment, and difficulty in monitoring PPE use. PPE should be readily available at each worksite, everywhere that it is needed. Workers should know when and how to use their hearing protection. A good rule of thumb is that if you have to shout to speak to someone approximately an arm’s length away, you should both have hearing protection on.

The metalworking industry presents a stunning variety of hearing hazards, as punching, cutting, casting, stamping and forming machinery, equipment and tools of all varieties assault the ears with all sorts of constant, intermittent, and impact noise. In such a dynamic environment, with people and machines constantly on the move, it’s critical that workers maintain situational awareness to operate safely. However, they can’t simply wear maximum protection at all times to block out every hazardous noise. Such overprotection could too easily make them miss important voice communications or warning signals.

Nor can they periodically remove their hearing protectors to monitor machines or speak with colleagues. That’s a sure way to risk permanent, noise-induced hearing loss.

HEARING CONSERVATION
Whether a formal hearing conservation program is required or not, the goal is to have a safe work environment at all work locations. Workers should go home with the same level of health and wellness the brought to work. Using the right hearing protection maintains a worker’s hearing health, but also allows that worker to safely complete his or her job.

Regulations require that employers furnish adequate hearing protection on the job. Finding the right hearing safeguards for the myriad needs at worksites across the metalworking industry not only provides compliance: it ensures that workers remain protected and productive. Learn more about improving productivity in the metal machine & fabrication industry or download the PDF – Click here to download a brochure (Adobe PDF)


SOURCE

10 Famous People with Hearing Loss

November 14, 2019

One of the most difficult aspects of hearing loss is the sense of alienation that comes with it.

Sometimes when we hear that celebrities are actually human and have the same and experiences and losses as us normal people feel adequate. However, when it comes to hearing loss – whether your a celebrity of not its still a difficult impairment to comprehend. We have seen many icons and celebrities that have lived with impairments such as Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles.

Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles are universally recognized as heroes for not letting their blindness stop them from producing some of the greatest music of the last century.

However, for those who are hard of hearing, role models can be a bit harder to find, despite the fact that a staggering 360 million people suffer from hearing loss around the world, with children making up nearly one-tenth of that number.

Perhaps this is because of the lingering stigma that surrounds hearing loss, which is invisible to others and often gradual. If you are struggling with a hearing problem but reluctant to make a change, it may prove somewhat comforting to know that you far from alone. In fact, some of the most successful people from the worlds of entertainment, music, sports, and history have been hard of hearing and many are now vocal advocates for hearing health awareness.

hearing loss celebrities

Here are just a few inspiring examples.

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, ACTOR/COMIC

A global star of the stage, silver screen, and most recently, co-host of The View on ABC, Whoopi Goldberg has openly discussed her hearing loss and the fact that she wears hearing aids in both ears. She believes that her hearing was damaged by listening to very loud music too close to her ears for many years. Today, she uses her story as a platform to keep children from abusing the volume function on their portable listening devices so they can keep enjoying their favorite tunes well into their adult years.

GERARD BUTLER, ACTOR

The Scottish star of 300 and many other film and stage productions, Gerard Butler had surgery as a child that left his right ear physically deformed. He suffers from lifelong tinnitus and hearing loss in that ear, which he says is responsible for his smile appearing crooked in photos. However, his condition did not prevent him from starring in the film version of the musical Phantom of the Opera and belting out the titular character’s bombastic rock-star anthems.

PETE TOWNSHEND, MUSICIAN

Lead guitarist and driving force behind the legendary rock band, The Who, Pete Townshend is completely deaf in one ear and only has partial hearing in the other – which is further troubled by tinnitus. He attributes his condition to using earphones in the recording studio while playing back music tracks (not to mention years of playing live on stage with one of the loudest acts in rock history). He has a hearing aid now and says its use and other assistive technology have helped him feel “reborn.”

HALLE BERRY, ACTRESS

One in three women have experienced domestic violence at the hands of a partner, and roughly 20 people are abused every minute in the United States. While the emotional trauma of abuse lasts a lifetime, the physical damage can be equally as permanent. In the case of Halle Berry, a toxic relationship cost her 80 percent of the hearing in one ear but couldn’t stop her from becoming one of the highest-grossing women in Hollywood. Halle Berry is also a dB Blocker wearer. During the filming of Xmen in Victoria BC – Halle picked up a pair of dB Blockers to block out loud on-set noises. Today, she is a regular spokeswoman for domestic abuse victims and uses her story to encourage others to stand up against violence, before it’s too late.

BRIAN WILSON, MUSICIAN

“Loud” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of the Beach Boys. Unlike his contemporaries who ruined their ears with cymbal crashes and guitar amplifiers, Brian Wilson, mastermind behind America’s favorite surf-rock boy band, has suffered from near-total deafness in his right ear since he was a young boy. An abusive father struck him on the side of the head for misbehaving, damaging the ear of one of the 20th century’s most cherished songwriters. Brian’s story, though tragic, is a perfect example of how hearing loss can affect anyone at any time. Fortunately, as Brian’s lifelong career has shown, it doesn’t have to be an impediment.

BARBRA STREISAND, MUSICIAN/ACTRESS

Despite international acclaim for her musical ability, Barbra Streisand has encountered setbacks on tour because of her lifelong struggle with tinnitus. For Streisand, the ringing in her ears worsens in stressful situations, and once was so intense it forced her to walk off stage in the middle of a performance. The singer and actress has gone on record saying that she used to feel ashamed of her tinnitus and wanted to keep it a secret from others. For a list of other artists who suffer from tinnitus, click here.

JANE LYNCH, ACTRESS

Though best known for her roles in comedies, Jane Lynch will be the first to tell you that hearing loss is no laughing matter. A virus stole the hearing from her right ear as an infant, but she was unaware of her condition for the first seven years of her life. In her 2011 memoir, she writes about the time her brother kept alternating listening to his radio between both ears, which marked the first time she realized that other people used both ears to hear.

HUEY LEWIS, MUSICIAN

Another rocker who played loudly and without hearing protection for years, Huey Lewis has extensive hearing loss and tinnitus. He wears hearing aids in both ears and contributes his story to campaigns to raise awareness among musicians and others of the risks that may lead to hearing loss.

CHRIS COLWILL, ATHLETE

Chris Colwill has competed on behalf of the United States in two Olympics as a member of the diving team. He was born with 60 percent hearing loss in both ears and wears hearing aids outside of the pool. Since he cannot dive with his hearing aids in, he relies on watching the scoreboard to keep track of when it is his turn to dive.

JIM RYUN, ATHLETE AND U.S. CONGRESSMAN (2ND DISTRICT, KS)

Inspirational Olympic silver medalist Jim Ryun was a member of the U.S. Track and Field team in the 1968 Mexico City games. He suffered 50 percent hearing loss as a young child after a bout with measles. Ryun later served as a Congressman from 1996-2007, a term distinguished by his introduction of the Hearing Aid Tax Credit Act. [1]

HISTORICAL FIGURES KNOWN TO HAVE HEARING LOSS

In addition to the folks mentioned above, many historical figures have accomplished great things, in spite and because of their deafness or hearing loss. The best known of these include the following:

  • Helen Keller, advocate, public speaker, author
  • Ludwig Van Beethoven, composer, musician
  • Thomas Edison, inventor, businessperson
  • Francisco Goya, master painter, printmaker