This has been a busy year for hearing health, filled with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of people overcoming hearing loss to achieve great things.
Just 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 many articles released in 2016 featuring the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today is the number one disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 60 percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (approximately 600,000) have irreparable hearing loss or tinnitus.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is focusing on creating helmets that minimize loud blasts while amplifying surrounding 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 remarkable things. However every now and then one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right attitude and determination.
Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around the challenge 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 familiarity with 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 growing awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her more popular posts on her blog Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts describes five things she wishes everyone understood 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 growing number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage caused by unsafe 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 great reminder for musicians and concert-attendees to safeguard their hearing during the course of live performances.
AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US due to lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring right away 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 an action that hopefully 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 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 variety of 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 most effective ways to raise 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 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 a key part of the company’s mission to expand opportunities for marginalized groups.
10 of the store’s 13 staff members are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Employees communicate primarily with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can write down their orders on note cards.
10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests
This is an intriguing article reminding us of how rapidly technology advances.
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 diagnosis of hearing loss will before long be a standard component 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 multiple encouraging breakthroughs.
Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either mask the sound or teach the patient on how to cope with the sound.
But now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered 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 about how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing better hearing aids and better training programs to help those with hearing loss to improve speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for further developments in the fundamental 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 underway that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with consequences including better hearing protection, better workplace noise guidelines, and targeted medical treatments.
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 begin the new year than by taking charge of your hearing health and experiencing all of the rewards of better hearing.
What did we leave out? What were your favorite stories of 2016?