Living with hearing loss can feel isolating, like you are the only person in the world who cannot hear a conversation in a crowded restaurant or a loved one’s whisper. As isolating as it feels, hearing loss actually affects millions of Americans of all ages, including some well known people that might be surprising.
Former president Bill Clinton has the most common form of hearing loss, which is an inability to hear high pitched noises and sounds. This means that he has issues with hearing in crowded places, which probably stems from both age and frequent exposure to loud noises. Clinton has worn hearing aids for years, and now has the almost invisible in-canal hearing aids.
A bout of mumps as an infant left Rob Lowe completely deaf in his right ear. Notoriously private, Rob Lowe has said little about his early hearing loss, other than acknowledging that he would love to hear “in stereo, rather than mono” and that loud, crowded restaurants are almost impossible.
Berry lost over 80% of her hearing in one ear after a domestic abuse incident. She has spoken frequently about the incident and her hearing loss, both to shine a spotlight on the fight against domestic violence and on the seriousness of living with hearing loss.
Who doesn’t know and love music from The Who? As the guitarist for The Who, Pete Townshend played countless loud venues, from small bars to huge football stadiums. Years of record-breaking concerts and constant use of loud studio headphones contributed to his substantial hearing loss and episodes of tinnitus. According to interviews, he is completely deaf in his left ear, and has partial loss in his right ear. Townshend now advocates for musicians to take care of their ears, both with protection and with breaks in between sets. He has also been seen using hearing aids to assist with his hearing.
Years of loud concerts and music took their toll on Goldberg’s hearing. She has significant hearing loss, and proudly wears hearing aids in both ears to assist her with hearing. Goldberg also warns people about the danger of prolonged exposure to loud music, and uses herself as a cautionary tale to try and prevent people from making the mistakes that she made.
Colbert was diagnosed with a tumor in his right ear as a child. Surgeons removed both the tumor and his eardrum, leaving him completely deaf in one ear. Colbert has gone on to become one of the most watched TV hosts in history, and has been quoted as saying his hearing loss helped him to pay closer attention to both details and to people.
Fifteen years ago, Rush Limbaugh was diagnosed with hearing loss due to Meniere’s Disease. Doctors later said that his use of opiates may have contributed to his hearing loss, but both Meniere’s and certain drugs can cause severe and sudden hearing loss. Rush Limbaugh has had two cochlear implants, and has had a substantial improvement in his hearing.
Another celebrity who is notoriously protective of her personal life and private information, Foster has been spotted wearing hearing aids, and has acknowledged that she has hearing loss.
Perhaps the most famous celebrity with almost complete hearing loss, Marlee Matlin was also the first celebrity with major hearing loss to win an Oscar for her role in “Children of a Lesser God.” She lost her hearing as an infant, and has been a fierce advocate for people with hearing loss. She has also incorporated her hearing loss into many of her roles, both in movies and in television.
Knowing how many famous people have hearing loss is a good reminder that you are not resigned to hiding in your recliner or being a wallflower. If you are wondering about your hearing, and trying to decide if you have hearing loss, take our easy one minute hearing quiz to see if you need to consult an audiologist. And remember that many people have and deal with hearing loss, from the talented Halle Berry to a former president!