Propelled into the spotlight after fronting the pop band The Black Eyed Peas, Will.i.am has become a regular judge on ITV’s The Voice UK. Unfortunately for the star, he has to deal with a hearing disorder.
Appearing on ITV’s lunchtime chat show Loose Women in January 2020, Will.i.am spoke about his health condition.
“Tinnitus… yeah, I have it,” he admitted. Then panellist Carol McGiffin asked what many people would be wondering.
“It doesn’t affect your ability to listen and hear music, does it?” she queried.
“No, not at all,” Will.i.am replied, shaking his head. “I’m not hearing impaired.”
What is tinnitus?
The British Tinnitus Association explained: “Tinnitus is the term for the sensation of hearing a sound in the absence of any external sound.”
Symptoms include hearing “ringing, whooshing, humming or buzzing in the ear”.
These sounds can be continuous, or can come and go; and the condition is very common.
About 30 percent of people will experience tinnitus at some point in their lifetime.
However, only one in eight people is estimated to live with persistent tinnitus.
Not regarded as a disease or an illness, tinnitus is thought to result “from some type of change”.
To explain this further, the charity states: “When we hear, sound travels into the ear and then the hearing nerves take the signals to the brain.
“The brain is then responsible for putting it all together and making sense of the sound.”
Usually, the brain filters out unnecessary background sounds, such as a clock ticking or traffic noise.
However, during an ear infection – or because of hearing loss – the “amount of information sent to the brain changes”.
The brain responds to this change by trying to get more information from the ear, with the extra information known as tinnitus.
Tinnitus is also more noticeable in quiet surroundings, which is why playing background music can help if you don’t want to hear the whooshing sound.
“Frequent, prolonged exposure to loud noise increases the risk of getting tinnitus,” attested the charity.
With a lifelong career in music, this could be one of the reasons why Will.i.am now has the condition.
Will.i.am will be judging on The Voice UK, Saturday night at 8:45pm on ITV.