This has been an active year for hearing health, full of new developments, fascinating research, and motivating stories of individuals conquering hearing loss to accomplish great things.
In case you missed it, here’s a review of the year’s 15 best stories.
1. Full Metal Racket
This post by New Republic was one of several posts published in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently is the number one disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs states that 60 percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (around 600,000) have irreparable hearing loss or tinnitus.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on creating helmets that mitigate loud blasts while amplifying surrounding sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re grateful to see several stories each year about individuals conquering hearing loss to accomplish remarkable things. But from time to time one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right attitude and perseverance.
Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around her hearing loss to learn not one, not two, but three languages. She speaks English, Spanish, and Latin (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic understanding of German.
That, by the way, makes her trilingual despite an ailment that makes speech comprehension quite difficult.
3. 5 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hearing Loss
Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate that has done wonderful things for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the everyday issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her popular posts on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts explains five things she wishes everyone knew about hearing loss.
4. ‘It’s going to get worse’: Nearly 30 percent of teens have hearing damage
This is one among many articles cautioning about the risks of earbud use and the growing number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage from dangerous listening practices, but that most are not hearing the message.
5. AC/DC Postpone Tour As Brian Johnson Faces ‘Total Hearing Loss’
This story is a good reminder for musicians and concert-attendees to safeguard their hearing during live shows.
AC/DC had to put off its tour in the United States as a consequence of lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring right away or risk total hearing loss.
6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss
Responding to the escalating problem of developing hearing loss and tinnitus at concerts, Pearl Jam supplied earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that we hope catches on with other bands.
Several musicians currently are dealing with hearing loss and tinnitus as a consequence of a lack of hearing protection at shows, including Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Ozzy Osbourne, Grimes, and Chris Martin.
7. Watch This Baby’s Face When the Doctor Turns on Her Hearing Aids for the First Time
We see a number of of these videos every year, video clips of a child hearing for the first time with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
But this particular video was the most watched of 2016. Check it out and try not to smile while you’re watching.
8. ‘Shark Tank’ star Daymond John: High-tech hearing aids changed my life
One of the best ways to raise awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a distinguished public figure speak on the topic.
In this post, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond discusses how he beat hearing loss and how high-tech hearing aids have enhanced his life.
9. The cool reason you won’t hear baristas shouting drink orders at this Starbucks
Starbucks has launched a brand new store committed to recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an integral part of the company’s mission to expand opportunities for marginalized groups.
10 of the store’s 13 employees are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Employees communicate mainly with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can record their orders on cards.
10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests
This is an interesting article reminding us of how aggressively technology advances.
Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has introduced the first blood test that can identify the inner ear proteins correlated with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early detection of hearing loss will soon be a standard part of the yearly physical exam.
11. How I ‘came out’ about my hearing disability
This inspiring story is about how photographer Kate Disher-Quill finally came to accept her hearing loss and embrace and love her hearing aids.
Kate’s project, Right Hear, Right Now, is designed to empower people to accept and embrace their differences. It’s something she wishes she had access to when she was younger, something that could have inspired her to accept her own hearing loss sooner than she did.
12. When silencing phantom noises is a matter of science
The investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with several promising developments.
Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments now available either mask the sound or instruct the patient on how to cope with the sound.
However now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have uncovered the first gene that might have the ability to prevent tinnitus.
13. Researchers identify part of the brain that compensates for hearing loss in older adults
As we understand more and more how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing better hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to maximize speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for further breakthroughs in the critical area of speech comprehension.
14. What Is ‘Hidden Hearing Loss’? Scientists Detect Symptoms In Young Adults
Hidden hearing loss can be present even in younger people who can pass a standard hearing test.
Research is underway that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing damage in young people, with ramifications including better hearing protection, improved workplace noise guidelines, and targeted medical treatments.
15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List
Finally, here are eight great reasons to get a hearing test, published by Better Hearing Institute. There’s no better way to begin the new year than by taking control of your hearing health and experiencing all of the benefits of better hearing.
What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?