This has been a busy year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and motivating stories of individuals 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 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today 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 (approximately 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on creating helmets that mitigate loud blasts while increasing surrounding sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re grateful to witness several stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to accomplish incredible things. But every once in a while one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right mindset and determination.
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, Latin, and Spanish (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic understanding of German.
Which, 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 raising awareness of the day-to-day issues facing individuals with hearing loss.
In one of her popular articles on her website 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 among many 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 injury 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 great reminder for musicians and concert-attendees to protect their hearing during the course of live shows.
AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the United States due to lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. 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 escalating problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that we hope catches on with other bands.
Several musicians currently are afflicted with 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 quite a few 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. 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 well known public figure speak on the subject.
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 dedicated to hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an important part of the company’s objective to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.
10 of the store’s 13 staff members are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Employees communicate principally 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 quickly technology progresses.
Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has developed the first blood test that can identify the inner ear proteins correlated with inner ear disorders like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early catching of hearing loss will before long be a routine 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 findings.
Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments now available either conceal the sound or teach the patient on how to cope with the sound.
However now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered the first gene that may 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 and more 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 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 underway that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and expose hearing problems in young people, with ramifications including more efficient 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 finally, here are eight very 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 control 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?