Black Eyed Peas star, Will.i.Am, has been told by doctors that he has a chronic condition called tinnitus. A potentially devastating blow to any musician. Tinnitus causes a constant ringing, hissing, or roaring sound in the ears that eventually leads to irreversible hearing loss. Tinnitus is relatively common in people who have hearing loss. One of the risk factors for hearing loss is repeated exposure to loud music or noises.
Other musical artists like Huey Lewis, Eric Clapton, Chris Martin, and Jeff Beck struggle with tinnitus or hearing loss because of years of listening to and playing loud music. Listening to sounds of over 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss and tinnitus. The music at some concerts and clubs can top 100 decibels. And that’s people listening in the audience, not singers on stage closer to the instruments.
Will.i.Am (real name Willam James Adams, Jr) said: “I’m 43. When I went to the doctor and got an ear test, they said, “Your ears are that of someone a lot older.” In 2007, 2013, and this year, I got all my frequency tests and the curve … it’s proper loss.”
The rapper, songwriter, and producer said he’d made some pretty drastic changes to his lifestyle to improve his overall health. He’s now vegan and takes caution to protect his hearing. Will.i.Am has accepted that his long battle with tinnitus will lead to further hearing damage, but he’s fighting it in every way possible.
Unfortunately, the singer says tinnitus makes it difficult to relax or sit in stillness. Still, he’s lucky to have a hearing test and a diagnosis. Now he can get help with therapy and change his lifestyle to maximize the hearing that remains.
Will.i.Am still leads a full life and is a coach on The Voice UK. It’s a job he loves and feels lucky to have. Tinnitus may get him down–but he’s not out!
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus sufferers hear noises such as ringing, hissing, buzzing, or roaring and aren’t caused by an outside source. Since an external source doesn’t cause the noise, it can’t be turned off or down. It can be intermittent or constant.
Some people find it a minor annoyance. Sadly, for others, it’s a life-changing condition that leaves them struggling to communicate, relax or concentrate.
Who Needs A Hearing Test?
As with Will.i.Am, you, or someone you love may believe that they have suffered some degree of hearing loss. You may notice the need to increase the TV or headphone volume or constantly ask people to repeat themselves.
Hearing loss can be sneaky, though, since the loss is gradual in most cases. The only way to truly know where your hearing stands is to check it regularly. This will help develop a baseline and make it easier to recognize a future decline. So even if your hearing seems alright now, it’s crucial to establish your hearing health.
Hearing loss has many causes:
- Noisey work environment
- Power tools/motors around the house
- Firing weapons
- Consistently listening to loud music
- Excessive ear wax build-up
- Blow to the head
- Ear infection
- Impact of a particular drug
- Inherited hearing issues
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on sufferers socially. They may feel left out of conversations or miss essential dialogues in movies or performances, leaving them disconnected. Embarrassment from hearing poorly can cause reclusiveness. The onset of depression can be typical when hearing loss is not addressed. Get out in front of hearing loss and schedule a test.
What Does A Hearing Test Entail?
A hearing test is usually a painless procedure and won’t take more than half an hour of your time. Time well spent establishing your current hearing health.
Most hearing tests will involve wearing headphones and listening to tones of varying pitches and volumes. This is done one ear at a time and helps determine how well you can hear high- or low-pitched sounds and the volume at which you hear best.
Your hearing specialist will probably ask you to listen to speech in varying volumes one ear at a time. You may be asked to repeat what was said to see how well you heard a message. The conditions will be ideal for listening since most testing is done in a soundproof room. You will get an accurate read on what you can or cannot hear.
Deciphering The Results
Your hearing test will reveal the extent of your hearing loss is in each ear.
We measure sound intensity with units called decibels. The louder the sound, the higher the decibels. A whisper is around 30 decibels, while a normal conversation will be double at 60 decibels. Add another 20+ dB when hearing someone shout. Hearing loss up to 25 dB is normal hearing and isn’t a concern.
Hearing loss is categorized in this way:
- Mild: 26 – 40 dB
- Moderate: 41 – 55 dB
- Moderate to severe: 56 – 70 dB
- Severe: 71 – 90 dB
- Profound: 91 – 100 dB
It may surprise you when you see the results of your hearing test. You may find you have moderate or higher hearing loss since, in most cases, it happens slowly. The specialists at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas are here to help you determine where your hearing stands and will refer you to other hearing professionals depending on the results.
Research is underway to see about restoring hearing loss in some cases, although most hearing loss can’t be repaired. The biggest thing anyone can do is be proactive about their hearing and protect the remaining hearing.
Options for treating your hearing loss:
- Hearing aids- portable with many styles to choose from.
- Sound amplifiers- devices that make it easier to hear a phone ringing at home or amplify sound in the theater or house of worship.
- Lip reading- can help increase understanding in conversions when no sound amplification is available.
- Personal protective devices- earplugs or noise-canceling headsets are great for protecting your remaining hearing when operating loud equipment.
See Where You Stand
If you’d like to have your hearing tested, make an appointment with us at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas. While we offer virtual care that allows people with hearing loss to receive care remotely, a hearing test will probably require you to come into the office.
Don’t go through another day wondering about your hearing loss. Contact us today to see how we can help.