There are some things that you do want to hear, such as when you fart a bit too loudly in public. You may have caught wind of this issue during a recent conversation between actor Ted Danson and Kelly Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show. There, Clarkson asked Danson about his recently getting hearing aids, to which Danson replied, “I love my hearing aids. They’re brilliant. They’ve changed my life.”
Now at first blush, there may not be an obvious connection between hearing aids and farting, assuming that the hearing aids are being worn on the right parts of the body. But the conversation soon floated towards flatulence, after Clarkson followed up with, “What do you hear now that you didn’t hear before?”
Danson then answered, “All the wind that I break that I used to think was…” In this situation, breaking wind meant farting. Speaking of breaking, he didn’t quite let out that sentence before laughter from both Clarkson and audience interrupted. After all, where there be talk of farts, there should be laughter.
Danson added more gas to the situation by relating an exchange that he had with his wife, actress Mary Steenburgen: “Mary would say ‘Ted! People can hear you!’ and I go ‘come on, they can’t hear me, of course not!’” Danson continued with, “But the first time I went off and I had them in I said ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry!'” You’ve heard of silent but deadly? Well, this seemed to be a case of not silent and dreadly. Farting is one thing. Farting like you just don’t care what’s in the air is another.
You can see all this and Danson getting to the bottom of tooting his own horn, so to speak, in the following clip from the show:
In this case, tooting his horn refers to farting rather than bragging about himself. Talking about your own farting probably would be the opposite of bragging about yourself. When people tout Danson’s accomplishments, they probably don’t call him a source of natural gas rather than the Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor, who’s starred in TV shows such as Cheers, Becker, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CSI: Cyber, Fargo, and The Good Place.
It was helpful for Clarkson to confirm that “farting is funny” and “everyone does it.” So next time you have the urge to laugh at a trump, which is British slang for a fart, let it all out. And if your significant other keeps claiming that he or she never farts then maybe you simply aren’t spending enough time together. Danson also added how actor Woody Harrelson would ambush him with farts. So much for that Shakespearean actor image that you may have of Harrelson.
In the clip, Danson did not elaborate further on his hearing loss, perhaps due to time constraints. But his mentioning hearing aids on the show in itself did bring more light to a major issue that hasn’t gotten the attention that it’s probably deserved. It’s not as if hearing loss is a rare condition. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), an estimated 15% of adults in the U.S. have reported at least some difficulty hearing. That translates to around 37.5 million people who are 18 years and older. This includes a substantial number of people with hearing loss that’s considered disabling: around 2 percent of those in the 45 to 54 year age range, 8.5 percent in the 55 to 64 age range, 25 percent in the 65 to 74 age range, and 50 percent of those 75 and older.
Hearing loss ain’t just a U.S. problem either. It’s a global problem. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 1.5 billion people, which is nearly 20% of the world’s population, live with hearing loss with it being disabling for around 430 million people. As the following March 3, 2021, tweets from the WHO show, these numbers are likely to keep rising:
That’s what happens when you don’t do enough to address a problem.
Despite the relatively high prevalence of hearing loss, many people who could benefit from hearing aids aren’t even using them. In the U.S., only about 30 percent of those with hearing loss who are 70 years and older have ever used hearing aids. This number drops to 16 percent for those between 20 and 69 years of age.
Hearing loss advocates such as Janice S. Lintz, Founder & CEO of Hearing Access and Innovations, have continued to try to raise more awareness about hearing loss and improve access to hearing innovations. For example, her advocacy has helped bring induction loops to subway stations and taxis in New York City and pushed for hearing aids to be available over-the-counter. Induction loops are technologies that can reduce background noise to allow those wearing hearing aids to better hear sounds. According to Lintz, a big part of why hearing loss hasn’t gotten more attention is stigma or perceived stigma. She said that people often, “try to hide their hearing loss and instead suffer in silence.” Lintz emphasized how “It’s time to eliminate the shame and stigma associated with hearing loss.” She also mentioned how many people, “cannot afford hearing aids, and no one discusses the need for a back up pair.”
So it helps for celebrities like Danson to clear at least some of the air about hearing aids. Of course, in the short span of a talk show appearance, Danson may not have had enough time to relay the full burden of hearing loss and the full panoply of potential benefits from increasing hearing access. The WHO “estimates that unaddressed hearing loss costs the global economy US$ 980 billion annually due to health sector costs (excluding the cost of hearing devices), costs of educational support, loss of productivity and societal costs.” And, naturally, not all of these costs are the result of people simply not being able to hear their own farts.