This has been a busy year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of people overcoming hearing loss to accomplish great things.
In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the year’s 15 best stories.
1. Full Metal Racket
This post by New Republic was one of many articles released in 2016 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now is the number one disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs states that 60 percent of those returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan (about 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or ringing in ears.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on developing helmets that minimize loud blasts while amplifying ambient sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re privileged to see a number of stories each year about individuals overcoming hearing loss to accomplish extraordinary things. However every now and then one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right mindset and determination.
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 familiarity with German.
That, by the way, makes her trilingual in spite of a condition 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 amazing things for the hearing loss community by raising awareness of the everyday issues facing individuals with hearing loss.
In one of her top 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 of several articles warning about the hazards of earbud use and the expanding number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing injury due to unsafe listening practices, but that most teens 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 protect their hearing during the course of live shows.
AC/DC had to delay its tour in the United States as a consequence of lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk complete hearing loss.
6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss
Responding to the escalating problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at concerts, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that we hope catches on with other bands.
A number of musicians currently are suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus due to a lack of hearing protection at shows, including Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Grimes, Ozzy Osbourne,
and Chris Martin.
7. Watch This Baby’s Face When the Doctor Turns on Her Hearing Aids for the First Time
We see quite a few of these videos every year, videos of a child hearing for the first time with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
However this specific 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 increase awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a notable 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 changed his life.
9. The cool reason you won’t hear baristas shouting drink orders at this Starbucks
Starbucks has launched a new store committed to recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as part of the company’s objective to expand opportunities for marginalized groups.
10 of the store’s 13 staff members are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Staff members communicate principally with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can record their orders on cards.
10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests
This is a fascinating article reminding us of how aggressively technology progresses.
Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has developed the first blood test that can recognize the inner ear proteins associated with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early catching of hearing loss will soon be a routine part of the annual 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 encouraging developments.
Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either conceal the sound or instruct the patient on how to deal with the sound.
But now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified the first gene that may be able to prevent tinnitus.
13. Researchers identify part of the brain that compensates for hearing loss in older adults
As we understand more about how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing better hearing aids and more efficient programs to help those with hearing loss to maximize speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for additional developments in the vital 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 regular hearing test.
Research is underway that can improve the precision of hearing testing and expose hearing problems in young people, with ramifications including better hearing protection, improved workplace noise standards, and highly targeted medical therapies.
15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List
And last, here are eight good reasons to get a hearing test, published by Better Hearing Institute. There’s no better way to start the new year than by taking charge of your hearing health and making the most of all of the benefits of better hearing.
What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?