October 9, 2001 -- (ABCNEWS.com) — Rush Limbaugh, who's been delighting conservatives and enraging "feminazis" and other liberals for 14 years with his right-wing radio talk show, told listeners Monday that he is going deaf.
Despite his hearing loss, Limbaugh said he hoped to continue with his show, which is broadcast on 600 stations nationwide.He discussed the U.S. and British attacks on Afghanistan during Monday's show, then revealed he noticed several months ago that he was losing his hearing.
"The bottom line is, from May 29 up until about 10 days ago, I lost hearing every five days, to the point, ladies and gentlemen, I'm now totally deaf in my left ear," said Limbaugh, 50.
He said he had taken some time off from his job to seek medical care, but doctors were not able to reverse the problem.
"Hearing aids, the most powerful made, mean nothing," said Limbaugh. "I have the ability to recognize sound, but not identify it in my right ear. I cannot communicate with people."
Limbaugh did not disclose the cause of his ailment, saying the doctors have their own theories, and he preferred to keep them to himself.
Such rapid deterioration is "relatively rare," said Dr. Bevan Yueh of the University of Washington.
Yueh would not speculate on a possible diagnosis without having examined Limbaugh or his test results, but added, "A complete loss that he describes experiencing usually carries a poor prognosis for regaining hearing."
The Show Will Go On
The flamboyant talk show host began mouthing off on the air 14 years ago after noticing the lack of a conservative voice on the air. His program emerged as political correctness and liberal ideals gained increasing attention in mainstream media, with Limbaugh serving as the foil to their comments.
Listeners increasingly turned their dial to hear Limbaugh's opinions. While some criticized Limbaugh for his barking manner and harsh attitude toward liberals and feminists — whom he ridiculed as "feminazis" — he offered a rallying cry for those who share his values.
The Rush Limbaugh Show became one of the most popular shows on the air through the 1990s. He also published two books, The Way Things Ought to Be and See, I Told You So.
His outspoken opinions also made him the butt of liberals' jokes and prompted books such as Al Franken's Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot.
Limbaugh told his fans he expects to be completely deaf in a month, but will continue his program regardless of his health condition. Just a few months ago, he renewed his contract through 2009 with Premiere Radio Networks. The deal was reported to be worth $285 million — the priciest radio contract in history.
His call-in show and 90-second radio commentary reach roughly 20 million listeners, according to The Associated Press.
It's not clear how he will fulfill his contract, since he can't hear phone calls, but he insisted the show will go on.
"I'm not going to explain to you how we're doing this," said Limbaugh. "Put two and two together, if you wish, but as long as the passion exists to do it, then we'll find a way."
ABCNEWS.com's Nancy Chandross and the ABCNEWS medical unit contributed to this report.