You don’t often hear or read about hearing loss in mainstream media. Have you seen any celebrities on TV, in a movie, or a musician wearing a hearing aid? Some advisors encourage them to hide their hearing loss, even though it is general knowledge that many musicians lose their hearing after performing for a long time.
Recently, there has been a rise in actors, musicians, and other notable people who have opened up about their hearing loss. The following individuals have been outspoken about their hearing problems, which helps destigmatize the condition.
Notable Actors with Hearing Problems
Halle Berry lost hearing in one ear after a domestic violence incident caused by a blow to the head by a former boyfriend. A traumatic brain injury (TBI), like a concussion, can cause permanent damage to the ear and auditory system that connects to the brain.
Barry, a native of Cleveland, OH, was a pageant queen and a successful actress in TV and movies. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role in “Monster’s Ball” (2002) and an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (2000).
As a child, Stephen Colbert had surgery to repair a perforated eardrum. The surgery caused single-sided deafness (SSD). He has joked about his ear by saying the surgeons “scooped it all out with a melon baller” and calls his external ear “a prop.”
He’s gone on to host The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and received Peabody and Emmy Awards for his past shows, “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report,” and specials on Showtime.
Whoopie Goldberg is an award-winning comedian and actress who also happens to wear hearing aids. She lost her hearing after many years of listening to loud music, which caused damage to her eardrum.
Before she became an actress and comedian, she worked in a funeral parlor and as a bricklayer. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for 1991’s “Ghost” and was an Oscar nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role for 1986’s “The Color Purple.”
Actress Holly Hunter became deaf in her left ear after a case of mumps. At age 9, she started learning how to play the piano. Her piano skills came in handy when she played the role of a mute woman living in the 1850s in the movie “The Piano.” Her performance in this film helped her win an Oscar for Best Actress in 1993.
Hunter is well known for her attention to detail, which she refined while listening to others attentively. Throughout her acting career, she received 91 nominations for various awards and won 44 times.
She recently played Rhea Jarrell in the HBO series “Succession.”
Actor, comedian, singer, banjo player, dancer, and writer Steve Martin revealed in an interview that he’s been struggling with tinnitus for several years. He said the cause of damage to his ear was from a gunfire scene from The Three Amigos.
The noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) was likely caused by listening to loud music and performing live concerts with 28,000 screaming fans. He’s become habituated with tinnitus, stating that it “becomes easier to live with. It becomes your natural background noise.”
Marlee Matlin’s hearing healthcare professionals are uncertain if a deformed cochlea or infection from childhood caused her deafness when she was 18 months old. That didn’t stop her from becoming history’s best-known and the most prolific actor. When she was seven, Matlin played Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” for a children’s theater company. Fifteen years later, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1986’s “Children of a Lesser God.” She’s had a total of 14 acting nominations and won three times.
Matlin has published “Deaf Child Crossing” - a series of children’s books - and a memoir called “I’ll Scream Later.” She is also the spokesperson for the largest provider of TV closed captioning.
Most ear infections will gradually go away on their own and won’t lead to permanent hearing loss, but ear infections that remain untreated may cause permanent harm. It happened to Robert Redford in 2013 when filming “All is Lost.” He played a stranded sailor, and it required him to submerge his whole body in a water tank and get blasted with a water hose every day. An ear infection led to 60% of hearing loss in his left ear.
Redford won an Oscar for Best Director for the 1981 film “Ordinary People.” He also starred in 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” 1973’s “The Way We Were”, and 1973’s “The Sting”.
Are you or a loved one experiencing hearing loss or tinnitus? Contact Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
A new study (the Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders - or ACHIEVE) published by The Lancet revealed that hearing aid usage lowered the risk of cognitive decline in older adults by 48%.
What did the ACHIEVE study reveal?
The study took place for over three years. The study examined about 1,000 adults (between the ages of 70 and 84) from two different health backgrounds. One group was labeled “healthy community volunteers,” and the other group was already participating in a study regarding cardiovascular health. All participants had untreated hearing loss with no significant cognitive detriment.
At random, the participants were separated into two groups. The first group received proper help for their hearing (hearing aids and consultations). The second group received health education but no hearing aids.
The participants already in the study on cardiovascular health who received help for their hearing showed a 48% delay in cognitive decline over the three-year study, compared to the peer group in the cardiovascular study who only received health education.
Studies on Hearing Loss and Dementia
Multiple studies, including the Lancet Commission on Dementia, Prevention, Intervention, and Care, in addition to Johns Hopkins Medicine, have found a connection between hearing loss, cognitive decline, and dementia. Hearing loss was named the primary variable risk factor to prevent dementia.
This study backs up the importance of helping anyone with hearing loss by using the proper treatment. Wearing hearing aids programmed for your specific loss can help lower the 10 million new cases of dementia globally every year.
Contact one of our hearing instrument specialists at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation.
Reverse-slope hearing loss, or low-frequency hearing loss, is a rare type of hearing loss. The name itself comes from how it looks when visualized through an audiogram - a standard chart used to measure levels of hearing when a person receives a hearing test. Anyone who experiences this type of hearing loss finds it harder to hear low-pitched sounds like the bass sounds in music, male voices, and thunder. Your ability, or inability, to pick up these sounds is contingent upon the range of hearing loss, which can be mild to profound.
The volume of speech sounds you can hear and interpret may be impacted. The ability to detect vowel sounds, which are lower-pitched than consonant sounds, can also be challenging. If you don’t wear hearing aids, ask others to speak up if you have trouble hearing low-pitched sounds.
What are reverse-slope hearing loss symptoms?
What causes reverse-slope hearing loss?
Reverse-slope hearing loss can be a genetic form of hearing loss, or a person may experience it after a childhood illness (chickenpox or measles) or a viral infection. Most cases also occur alongside autoimmune disorders, Ménière's disease, or otosclerosis. With Ménière's disease, troubles with hearing can change and progress into other types of hearing loss that impact how sounds come across in various pitches.
A risk factor for heart disease is low-frequency hearing loss, but more research is needed to understand this connection.
If you are experiencing any range of hearing loss and believe hearing aids can be a solution, please contact Pure Sound Hearing for a hearing test and consultation.