Music manager and former X Factor judge Louis Walsh is helping Specsavers Audiologists raise awareness of the importance of regular hearing checks after revealing he has hearing loss.

Listen Up!

The 63-year-old, who has managed some of the UK’s most successful pop groups, has spoken out about his deteriorating hearing for the first time following a recent test at Specsavers Audiologists.

Louis, who has been told that he will most likely need to wear hearing aids one day, has teamed up with Specsavers to launch its Listen Up campaign.

Recent research into hearing loss in the latest Health Survey for England* found that one in six women and almost one in four men aged over 55 reported no hearing difficulties, but were subsequently found to have some hearing loss.

Louis on hearing and his career

‘That’s why I’m pleased to be launching Specsavers Audiologists’ Listen Up campaign, to help encourage others to have regular hearing checks.’

During The X Factor auditions two years ago, Louis realised he was really struggling to hear the acts; ‘the audience was so loud and the other judges started making jokes about my hearing and old age. I laughed them off.’

Louis said: ‘I’ve worked in the music industry since I was 15 and have had the pleasure of listening to some great – and not-so-great – acts over the years. My hearing is obviously crucial in my career, so I was a little nervous when I first began to notice that it wasn’t what it used to be.'

The importance of regular checks

Following a recent hearing test at Specsavers Audiologists, Louis was informed that although he doesn’t currently need a hearing aid, he does have mild age-related hearing loss which should be monitored. ‘I was actually quite shocked to hear that I don’t need a hearing aid yet, but having my hearing tested has made me realise just how important it is to have regular hearing checks. People have no problem getting their sight checked, yet for some reason, admitting to having hearing problems is still relatively taboo.’

Louis added: ‘Although I don’t need to wear a hearing aid now, I know there will come a time when I do, and I have no problem with that whatsoever. I want to continue to hear everything and they are so small and advanced these days that there really is no reason to not want to wear one!’

‘I know Simon Cowell will really take the mickey out of me for this, but I think after some of the people he’s allowed through on The X Factor he should consider having his hearing tested too! I mean come on, Reggie and Bollie?!’

A word from the audiologist

Nick Taylor, head of professional advancement at Specsavers Audiologists said: ‘Louis’s high-frequency hearing loss is relatively mild and is due to normal wear and tear. Often known as presbycusis, this type of hearing loss happens gradually as people age.

‘Unfortunately, people still find it difficult to admit that they are losing their hearing, despite it being a natural ageing process that happens to everyone. The Specsavers’ Listen Up campaign aims to normalise hearing loss, raise awareness of the common symptoms and encourage people to incorporate hearing checks into their regular healthcare routine. We recommend that anyone over the age of 55 has a hearing check once a year.’

Louis jokes: ‘I suppose it’s obvious that my hearing has deteriorated over the years: my acts like Boyzone and Westlife have had great success, and people like Johnny Logan have helped Ireland become the most successful country in Eurovision’s history. But in more recent times, perhaps if my hearing had been up to scratch I wouldn’t have put some of the acts through!’

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*NatCen Social Research & UCL survey of 5,300 people in England, December 2015