This has been an active year for hearing health, full of 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 biggest stories.
1. Full Metal Racket
This post by New Republic was one of many articles published in 2016 highlighting 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 states that 60 percent of those returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan (about 600,000) have irreparable hearing loss or ringing in ears.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is focusing on creating helmets that mitigate loud blasts while increasing surrounding sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re fortunate to see several stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to achieve incredible things. But every once in awhile one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right perspective 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 understanding of German.
That, by the way, makes her trilingual in spite of 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 building awareness of the day-to-day issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her most popular posts on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts identifies 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 cautioning about the risks of earbud use and the expanding number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing injury as a consequence of 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 great reminder for musicians and concert-goers to protect their hearing during the course of 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 advised Johnson to stop touring right away or risk complete hearing loss.
6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss
In response to the escalating problem of acquiring 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 currently are suffering from 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 variety of of these videos each 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 best ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a respected public figure speak on the issue.
In this article, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond talks about how he overcame 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 new store committed to hiring 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 note 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 developed the first blood test that can recognize the inner ear proteins correlated with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early diagnosis of hearing loss will soon be a standard component 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 multiple promising developments.
Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either cover up the sound or guide the patient on how to cope with the sound.
However now researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered the first gene that might be able to prevent tinnitus.
13. Researchers identify part of the brain that compensates for hearing loss in older adults
As we learn more about how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing more effective hearing aids and more efficient programs to help those with hearing loss to enhance speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for further developments in the crucial area of speech comprehension.
14. What Is ‘Hidden Hearing Loss’? Scientists Detect Symptoms In Young Adults
Hidden hearing loss could be present even in young adults who can pass a standard hearing test.
Research is ongoing that can enhance the accuracy of hearing testing and uncover hearing damage in young people, with consequences including more effective hearing protection, improved workplace noise standards, and highly targeted medical treatments.
15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List
And finally, here are eight very 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 control of your hearing health and making the most of all of the benefits of better hearing.
What did we leave out? What were your favorite stories of 2016?