This has been a lively year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and encouraging stories of people overcoming hearing loss to achieve great things.
In case you missed it, here’s a review of the year’s 15 biggest stories.
1. Full Metal Racket
This article by New Republic was one of many articles released in 2016 featuring the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today is the leading disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs states that 60 percent of those returning 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 developing helmets that minimize loud blasts while amplifying surrounding sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re fortunate to witness a number of stories each year about individuals conquering hearing loss to achieve extraordinary things. But on occasion one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right frame of mind 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 knowledge of German.
That, 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 amazing things for the hearing loss community by building awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her most popular posts on her blog Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts identifies 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 hazards of earbud use and the increasing number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems caused by dangerous 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 US due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring right away 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 concerts, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move 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 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 quite a few 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 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 subject.
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 enhanced his life.
9. The cool reason you won’t hear baristas shouting drink orders at this Starbucks
Starbucks has launched a brand new store committed 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 staff members 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 fascinating article reminding us of how aggressively 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 conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early detection 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 several encouraging findings.
Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available now either mask the sound or guide the patient on how to deal with the sound.
But now researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have uncovered 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 understand more information on how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing better hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to elevate speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for further developments in the fundamental 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 ongoing that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with ramifications including better hearing protection, better workplace noise standards, and targeted medical treatments.
15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List
And last, 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 charge of your hearing health and making the most of all of the advantages of better hearing.
What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?