This has been a hectic year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of individuals overcoming hearing loss to achieve great things.
Just in case you missed it, here’s a recap of the year’s 15 best stories.
1. Full Metal Racket
This article by New Republic was one of many 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 home from Iraq and Afghanistan (around 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or ringing in ears.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is focusing on creating helmets that minimize loud blasts while increasing ambient sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re fortunate to see several stories each year about people overcoming hearing loss to accomplish incredible things. However every once in a while one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right state of mind and perseverance.
Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around the obstacle of hearing loss to learn not one, not two, but three different languages. She speaks English, Spanish, and Latin (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic knowledge of German.
That, by the way, makes her trilingual in spite of an ailment that makes speech comprehension very difficult.
3. 5 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Hearing Loss
Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate that has done great things for the hearing loss community by boosting awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her popular articles on her blog 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 risks of earbud use and the growing number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems caused by dangerous 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 safeguard their hearing during live performances.
AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US as a consequence of frontman 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 growing problem of developing hearing loss and tinnitus at live shows, Pearl Jam supplied earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that we hope catches on with other bands.
Several musicians presently 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 a variety 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.
However this particular video was the most watched of 2016. See for yourself 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 most effective ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a prominent public figure speak on the topic.
In this article, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond talks about 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 brand new store committed to hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an integral part of the company’s objective to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.
10 of the store’s 13 employees are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Employees 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 quickly technology advances.
Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has introduced the first blood test that can recognize the inner ear proteins associated with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early detection of hearing loss will before long 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 search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with several promising findings.
Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available now either conceal the sound or advise the patient on how to deal with the sound.
But now researchers 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 find out more information on 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 boost speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for additional developments in the crucial area of speech comprehension.
14. What Is ‘Hidden Hearing Loss’? Scientists Detect Symptoms In Young Adults
Hidden hearing loss can be present even in young adults who can pass a standard hearing test.
Research is ongoing that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and expose hearing problems in young people, with consequences including more effective hearing protection, better workplace noise guidelines, and highly 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 enjoying all of the rewards of better hearing.
What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?