This has been an active year for hearing health, filled with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of people conquering hearing loss to achieve great things.
In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the year’s 15 biggest stories.
1. Full Metal Racket
This post by New Republic was one of many posts published in 2016 featuring the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently is the leading 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 permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on developing helmets that minimize loud blasts while amplifying ambient sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re privileged to see several stories each year about individuals overcoming hearing loss to accomplish remarkable things. But every now and then one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right mindset 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 in spite of 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 growing awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her top posts on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts talks about 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 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 damage caused by 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 good reminder for musicians and concert-attendees to safeguard their hearing during live performances.
AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the US as a consequence of 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
In response to the growing problem of developing 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 afflicted by hearing loss and tinnitus due to a lack of hearing protection at shows, including Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Grimes, Ozzy Osbourne,
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, 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 increase awareness of hearing loss and eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a notable public figure speak on the topic.
In this post, 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 changed his life.
9. The cool reason you won’t hear baristas shouting drink orders at this Starbucks
Starbucks has opened a new store dedicated 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 staff members are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Employees communicate primarily with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can write down their orders on cards.
10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests
This is a cool article reminding us of how rapidly technology advances.
Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has introduced the first blood test that can detect the inner ear proteins correlated 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 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 search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple encouraging findings.
Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments currently available either cover up the sound or advise the patient on how to deal with the sound.
But now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified 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 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 heighten speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for additional developments in the critical 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 people who can pass a basic hearing test.
Research is underway that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and uncover hearing damage in young people, with consequences including more effective hearing protection, improved workplace noise guidelines, and targeted medical therapies.
15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List
Finally, here are eight great 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 enjoying all of the benefits of better hearing.
What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?