Experiencing hearing loss can make you feel isolated, but you're not alone in facing this health condition.
When we think of hearing loss, we often only associate it with older adults. But hearing loss does not discriminate against age or occupation.
Hearing loss is more common than many people realize, and it can affect people of all ages, including celebrities and well-known individuals.
As an audiologist, I work with patients across the lifespan, from infants and toddlers to adults of all ages. Even though one in ten Americans experience some form of hearing loss, it remains a taboo subject that we don't talk about enough.
In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at what hearing loss is and then explore some famous people with hearing loss in various fields, such as sports, entertainment, and music.
What is hearing loss?
Hearing loss can affect people of all ages and ranges from mild, where a person may struggle to follow a conversation in a noisy room, to severe, where someone cannot hear normal conversational speech.
Hearing loss has many causes, including:
- Noise exposure
It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds and can have a profound impact on daily life.
At Soundly.com, we have over 300 articles that provide more in-depth information on hearing loss, its causes, and how it can be treated.
One of the most common types of hearing loss, high-frequency hearing loss, causes a lack of speech clarity, especially in background noise.
And, hearing loss can happen at different points in the auditory system.
Here are some Soundly resources on hearing loss, causes, and conditions to gain more insights:
👉Read more on high frequency hearing loss.
👉Learn eye-opening facts and statistics on hearing loss.
👉Take a deeper look at sensorineural, conductive, and mixed hearing loss.
If you suspect you have hearing loss, you can take an online hearing test at Soundly to check your hearing abilities here.
Are there celebrities with hearing loss?
Believe it or not, some of the biggest names in Hollywood and beyond have experienced hearing loss.
Hearing loss is a common yet often overlooked condition affecting millions worldwide, including some of our beloved celebrities.
Millie Bobby Brown
To start, Millie Bobby Brown, known for her role in Stranger Things, has been vocal about her hearing loss, which affects her ability to localize sound. She reports hearing loss hasn't kept her from doing what she loves, including acting and singing. Rather than listening for an "action!" cue, she relies on visual cues on the set.
Similarly, since infancy, Rob Lowe has dealt with unilateral hearing loss that can be challenging in crowded settings. Undiagnosed mumps in childhood is to blame for his right ear hearing loss. When asked about his hearing loss, he has said that he hears the world in "mono" rather than "stereo."
Jodie Foster, an award-winning actress, has hearing loss too. Nowadays, she sits behind the camera as a director/producer, where she can be spotted with her ITE hearing aids.
These celebrities and countless others are living proof that hearing loss does not limit one's ability to achieve success in the entertainment industry or any other field. Their outspoken nature and talent have shattered stereotypes and inspired thousands of people worldwide, encouraging them to embrace their hearing loss and seek the necessary help and support to achieve their dreams.
Are there influencers with hearing loss?
As social media becomes a more significant part of our lives, it is essential to seek out influencers who represent and advocate for diversity and inclusion in all its forms.
There are several influencers who not only have hearing loss but also use their platform to bring attention to the issue and promote positive change.
Social media has given them the platform to share their stories, spread awareness, and educate people about hearing loss.
Ashley Fiolek (@ashleyfiolek_67)
Ashley Fiolek is a former professional motocross racer, influencer, and a current stunt actor. She has won multiple X Games medals and was the first woman to be awarded an ESPN ESPY award in 2009.
What's most impressive about her is her incredible talent in her work. Her story is inspiring as she began racing at a young age against the odds. Her experiences navigating a career in motocross as a deaf person prove that determination and perseverance can help one achieve their dreams.
Marlee Matlin (@themarleematlin)
Marlee Matlin is the first Deaf Academy Award recipient, a wife, and a mom of four. She has used her platform to share her journey and advocate for the hearing-impaired community. Her Instagram account is a mix of personal moments with her family, fun Reels and TikTok videos, and the occasional advocacy post where she shares her perspective on accessibility in the entertainment world.
Scarlet May (@scarlet_may.1)
Scarlet May's Instagram and TikTok accounts are the place to be if you want some laughter in your feed. She started making entertaining "Deaf Kardashians" videos on TikTok in 2020, where she shares funny videos, common misconceptions, and helpful signs to know with her sense of humor. Her content is relatable, and it is a great way to learn more about deaf culture as well.
Are there musicians with hearing loss?
When it comes to music, hearing loss can be a painful irony for artists who dedicate their lives to creating sound.
However, it's a reality that many musicians face. From Dave Grohl to Sting, Will.i.Am and Eric Clapton, some of the most famous musicians, have suffered from hearing loss or tinnitus at some point in their careers.
While it poses a significant challenge to their life and work, they have persevered and continued to create incredible music.
Dave Grohl—the iconic musician from the rock band the Foo Fighters—revealed that he had hearing loss and tinnitus after years of playing loud music in studios and live shows. He now wears custom-fitted in-ear monitors to help him hear and protect his existing hearing while on stage.
Similarly, Sting has experienced noise-induced hearing loss during his time in The Police band. He is now a celebrity ambassador for the Hear the World Foundation, which helps children from low to middle-income countries access hearing healthcare.
Eric Clapton, the legendary musician, experienced hearing loss and tinnitus in 1985. Despite his bothersome tinnitus, he has continued to perform and create music, even releasing an album in 2018.
The former Black Eyed Peas member Will.i.Am admits to having high-frequency hearing loss, primarily due to his noise exposure history. Will.i.Am turned his hearing loss into a positive initiative, partnering with a hearing solutions company to develop and market accessible hearing aids.
The struggles of musicians with hearing loss show how integral hearing is to making music.
Are there athletes with hearing loss?
Athletes with hearing loss are not limited by their condition and often use it as an added challenge to push themselves even further.
Derrick Coleman, an NFL football player, became the first legally deaf offensive player in the league when he joined the Seattle Seahawks in 2013.
Heidi Zimmer, a deaf mountaineer, has summited the highest peaks on all seven continents, including Mount Everest.
And then there’s Curtis Pride, a former Major League Baseball player who played for six different teams and was known for his impressive defensive skills.
These athletes have shown incredible physical abilities, determination, and resilience to overcome obstacles and succeed in their respective sports. They serve as role models and inspiration to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and a reminder that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.
As an audiologist, I have seen firsthand the impact of hearing loss on a person's quality of life. It is essential for all of us to be aware of hearing loss and its prevalence and to normalize conversations about hearing health. Remember, hearing loss is common and doesn't have to limit your life choices by any means. Seeking help and support can be a life-changing step towards a brighter, more connected future.