Hearing loss can affect everyone, and as such, it strikes the rich, the poor, the unknown, and the known with unnerving equality. Roughly 20 percent of all adults in the United States suffer some degree of hearing loss, and, of course, some of the almost 50 million affected are household names. If you or someone you love is dragging their feet about getting a hearing aid to address hearing loss, let this list sustain you: Even some of the most well-known people in the world wear hearing aids, and not one of them is liked less because of it. Here are eight celebrities from all industries and walks of life who wear hearing aids on a daily basis.
The 42nd president of the United States, Bill Clinton spent years trying to ignore or over-compensate for his hearing loss before finally going to an audiologist to have it addressed. Diagnosed with high frequency hearing deficiency the most common kind of hearing loss the former president now wears two in-canal hearing aids, which help him distinguish between sounds in chaotically noisy settings like crowds, restaurants, and rallies.
The much-loved and celebrated comedian, actress, writer, and activist, Whoopi Goldberg has won an Oscar, a Tony, a Grammy, and an Emmy a rare feat that less than 20 performers can lay claim to. A huge fan of music, Goldberg suffered hearing loss due to years of listening to music at too high a level. Today, she wears hearing aids to assist her ears in picking up low-end frequencies.
Known for his seminal and memorable songwriting and guitar playing with The Who, Pete Townshend suffers from hearing loss and tinnitus not surprising given his decades of rock and roll playing and practicing, as well as headphone use. In addition to the already hearing-hazardous conditions in which he was working, Townshend’s bandmate Keith Moon also used to blow up his drum set now and again with actual explosives. These days, he wears hearing aids to compensate for the damage.
The Academy Award-winning actress is known to be particularly private about her personal life, but she did once tell a reporter that she wasn’t doing a very good job taking care of her health, including unattended-to hearing loss. Since that interview, she has been spotted wearing hearing aids, although the nature of her hearing loss in unknown.
Another musician who didn’t utilize hearing protection early enough in his career, Huey Lewis has severe hearing loss and tinnitus. These days, he wears hearing aids in both ears and works hard to promote hearing protection and hearing loss awareness among musicians.
The former athlete and congressman, Jim Ryun was a three-time Olympian, who was also the first high school athlete in the United States to break the 4-minute mile. He was even chosen in 2003 by ESPN as the best high school athlete ever, besting superstars like Tiger Woods and LeBron James. In addition to being a stellar athlete, Ryun also served the state of Kansas in the U.S. Congress for 11 years. He suffered 50 percent hearing loss as a child after contracting the measles, and has worn hearing aids to overcome the loss. The Hearing Aid Tax Credit Act exists thanks to his efforts in Congress.
Actor Brian Kerwin has been on Broadway, in movies, and on television, and for most of his roles, he has to remove his hearing aids just before shooting or going on stage, because they aren’t part of his character’s storyline. However, he guest-starred in an episode of CBS, “Blue Bloods” two years ago, and the director decided he should leave his hearing aids in for the episode, even though there was nothing about hearing loss in the storyline. It’s a move Kerwin hopes will happen more regularly, since more hearing aid wearers on TV is likely to aid in de-stigmatizing hearing loss.
The first legally deaf player to play for the NBA, Lance Allred was born deaf and wears hearing aids in both ears. As a basketball player, he had considerable adversity to overcome, but still managed to achieve success as a professional athlete, especially considering his 75 to 80 percent hearing loss. He penned a critically acclaimed book about his life titled, “Longshot: The Adventures of a Deaf Fundamentalist Mormon Kid and His Journey to the NBA.”
Hearing loss is something that can affect anyone, regardless of personal talent, wealth, or fame. If you suspect you have a problem, do what these eight brave celebrities have done, and get the assistance you need to get your hearing health back on track.