Ted Danson health: Star can hear himself ‘break wind’ due to life-changing hearing aids

Mr. Mayor: Ted Danson stars in trailer for NBC comedy

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The star has been acting since the mid-1970s when he appeared multiple times on television. Since then he landed his breakthrough role in Cheers and has gone on to win numerous awards for his craft. Yet like many as they get older, Danson struggled with hearing loss. The NHS explains that hearing loss gradually occurs over time as loud noises cause damage to the thousands of tiny hairs that help translate sound vibrations into electrical signals. Once damaged, electrical signals that are transmitted to your brain and turned into sound are not produced properly, making it difficult for people to hear others.

Although Danson did not go into detail about how he lost his hearing, the star did explain how having hearing aids have “changed [his] life”. Talking on The Kelly Clarkson Show he said: “I love my hearing aids. They’re brilliant.

“They have changed my life. [I can now hear] all the breaking wind that I used to think was silent. Mary [Steenburgen] would say ‘Ted! People can hear you!’ and I would say ‘Oh come on, they can’t hear me, of course not!’

“But the first time I had them in and I went off I said ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry!'”

Although hearing aids cannot cure hearing loss completely, they are able to make sounds louder and clearer. In fact, the NHS lists the numerous benefits hearing aids can have:

  • Help you hear everyday sounds such as the doorbell and phone
  • Improve your ability to hear speech
  • Make you feel more confident when talking to people and make it easier for you to follow conversations in different environments
  • Help you to enjoy listening to music and the TV, at a volume that’s comfortable for those around you.

After an initial hearing assessment, individuals will be able to talk through the best type of hearing aid for them. The most common type of hearing aid is known as a behind the ear (BTE). This sits behind the ear and is attached to a tube that fits inside the ear.

Alternatively, individuals can use a receiver in the ear (RITE) hearing aid, which are similar to BTE hearing aids but the part that sits behind the ear is smaller and connected to a speaker which is placed inside the opening of the ear.

RITE hearing aids are less visible and are suitable for most people with hearing loss, but they can be more fiddly to use than BTE hearing aids.

For those that do not want hearing aids to be seen at all, in the ear (ITE) hearing aids might be suitable. These fill the area just outside the opening of the year and cannot be seen from behind, only on the side.

Other types of hearing aid available include the following:

  • In the canal (ITC)
  • Completely in the canal (CIC) and invisible in the canal (IIC)
  • Body worn hearing aids.

Approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have some degree of hearing loss, with nearly half over the age of 75. This can be an extremely daunting prospect, and most will ignore symptoms until they are too severe.

The National Institute on Ageing (NIH) explains that older people who cannot hear others usually become depressed or withdrawn as they feel frustrated about not understanding what is being said.

It is possible that older people are mistakenly thought to be confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative because they don’t hear well.


It is for this reason that hearing loss should be diagnosed as quickly as possible before it gets worse. Noticing the first signs and symptoms of hearing loss is important and usually the first step in getting extra support and medical help.

The NIH recommends that individuals should seek help from their GP if they:

  • Have trouble hearing over the telephone
  • Find it hard to follow conversations when two or more people are talking
  • Often ask people to repeat what they are saying
  • Need to turn up the TV volume so loud that others complain
  • Have a problem hearing because of background noise
  • Think that others seem to mumble
  • Can’t understand when women and children speak to you.

Hearing loss is not as simple as it sounds. In fact, it comes in many forms. Ranging from mild hearing loss to total hearing loss, some individuals may only struggle to hear high-pitched sounds such as doorbells and alarms.

There are two general categories of hearing loss known as sensorineural and conductive. The first, sensorineural hearing loss, occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve, it is typically permanent. Whereas the second, conductive hearing loss, occurs when sound waves cannot reach the inner ear.

A build-up of earwax, fluid, or a punctured eardrum are all possible causes of conductive hearing loss and with the help of medical treatment or surgery hearing can usually be restored.

Hearing loss associated with ageing is known as presbycusis and generally seems to run in families because of changes to the inner ear or auditory nerve.

Age-related hearing loss usually affects both ears equally but happens over an extended period of time. Someone with presbycusis may not realise that they have lost some of his or her ability to hear.

This differs from conditions such as tinnitus which is often described as a ringing, roaring, clicking or hissing in the ears that is not being made by the outside world. Tinnitus can accompany any type of hearing loss and might be a sign of other health problems, such as high blood pressure, allergies, or as a side effect of medications.

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