This has been a busy year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of people conquering hearing loss to accomplish great things.
Just 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 several articles released in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently 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 (around 600,000) have irreparable hearing loss or ringing in ears.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on creating helmets that minimize loud blasts while increasing surrounding sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re privileged to witness several stories each year about people overcoming hearing loss to accomplish amazing things. But every once in a while 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 her 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 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 wonderful things for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the day-to-day issues facing individuals with hearing loss.
In one of her most 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 among several articles warning about the dangers of earbud use and the escalating 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 teens 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 US as a consequence of frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors instructed 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 developing hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that hopefully catches on with other bands.
A number of musicians currently suffer 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 several of these videos every year, videos of a child hearing for the first time with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.
But 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 eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a well known public figure speak on the topic.
In this post, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond discusses how he overcame 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 opened a new store committed to employing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as 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. Staff members communicate mainly 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 a cool article reminding us of how quickly 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 routine 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 encouraging breakthroughs.
Tinnitus is challenging to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available now either cover up the sound or guide the patient on how to deal with the sound.
But now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified 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 find out more about 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 heighten speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for additional breakthroughs 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 basic hearing test.
Research is ongoing that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with consequences including more effective 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
Finally, 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 enjoying all of the benefits of better hearing.
What did we leave out? What were your favorite stories of 2016?