This has been a lively year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and motivating stories of individuals overcoming 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 many posts released in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now represents the number one disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 60 percent of those returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan (about 600,000) have irreversible hearing loss or tinnitus.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on creating helmets that mitigate loud blasts while increasing ambient sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re grateful to see several stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to accomplish incredible things. But once in awhile one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right frame of mind and perseverance.
Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around her hearing loss to learn not one, not two, but three different languages. She speaks English, Latin, and Spanish (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 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 wonders for the hearing loss community by building awareness of the day-to-day issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her popular posts 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 cautioning about the dangers of earbud use and the expanding number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems as a result of 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 safeguard their hearing during the course of live shows.
AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the US as a consequence of lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss.
6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss
Responding to the growing problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that hopefully 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 these videos each 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. 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 eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a well known 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 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 opened a brand new store dedicated to hiring 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 employees are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Workers communicate mainly 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 a cool article reminding us of how rapidly technology progresses.
Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has introduced the first blood test that can identify the inner ear proteins linked with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early catching 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 several promising developments.
Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments now available either cover up the sound or instruct the patient on how to cope with the sound.
However 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 learn more information on how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing more effective hearing aids and better training programs to help those with hearing loss to enhance 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 could be present even in young adults who can pass a basic hearing test.
Research is underway that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with ramifications including better hearing protection, better workplace noise guidelines, 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 great 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 enjoying all of the advantages of better hearing.
What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?