His hearing loss has changed the way he plays music, in fact, Lewis told NPR that he can’t hear the notes anymore.
“I can’t hear the notes — I just hear cacophony,” Lewis told NPR.
The cause of Lewis’ hearing loss is Meniere’s disease, which is an inner ear disorder that causes vertigo, fluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus, and ear pressure.
Early on in his music career, 35 years ago, Lewis says he experienced hearing loss in his right ear and relied on his left ear for hearing the music and singing. Then, he started losing his hearing in his left ear a couple of years ago. In 2018, Huey Lewis and the News had to call off their tour because Lewis could no longer sing due to the hearing loss in his left ear.
Since the news about Lewis’ hearing loss in 2018, Lewis has spoken out about how his hearing loss and Meniere’s disease have affected his life. When he first learned about his hearing loss, he became depressed and reached the point of being suicidal.
“The first two months were suicidal. I mean I literally would contemplate my demise,” he told USA Today. “I’d think, ‘Man, this is horrible. I can’t live like this.’ Tinnitus roaring in my head and couldn’t hear anything. But, you know, you can get used to almost anything.”
Lewis has since learned to cope with his hearing loss and now has a more positive outlook on life.
“First of all, you can kind of get used to almost anything,” he told NPR what he has learned from his hearing loss. “And number two, I remind myself that there’s lots of people that are worse off than I am … I’m still, overall, a lucky guy.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, “research suggests that 30 to 50 percent of musicians have hearing problems.”
These hearing problems are an effect of prolonged noise exposure over many years.
With the high risk of losing your hearing as a musician, it is crucial to protect your hearing if you are frequently in a loud environment. If you are a performing musician, the National Institutes of Health says there are more options to protect your hearing. You can wear an earplug that is specifically designed for musicians allowing the person to hear the music they are playing but at a lower level.
For music fans, earplugs or earmuffs are a great way to protect your hearing at concerts.
Learn more about the different types of Hearing Protection.