This has been a busy year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of people overcoming hearing loss to accomplish great things.
Just 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 several articles released in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently is the leading disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 60 percent of those returning 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 minimize loud blasts while amplifying ambient sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re privileged to witness a number of stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to achieve remarkable things. However once in awhile one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right perspective 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, 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 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 boosting awareness of the daily issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her more popular articles 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 among several articles warning about the risks of earbud use and the increasing number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage due to 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-goers to protect their hearing during live shows.
AC/DC had to put off its tour in the US as a consequence of lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss.
6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss
In response to the escalating problem of developing hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that we hope catches on with other bands.
A number of musicians currently are afflicted with 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 number of of these videos every 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 reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a popular public figure speak on the topic.
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 opened a brand new store committed to hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as a vital part of the company’s objective to expand opportunities for marginalized groups.
10 of the store’s 13 employees are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Staff members 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 fascinating article reminding us of how rapidly 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 detection of hearing loss will soon be a routine part 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 promising developments.
Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments now available either mask the sound or advise the patient on how to deal with the sound.
However 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 understand more about how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing more effective hearing aids and better programs to help those with hearing loss to elevate speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for additional developments in the fundamental area of speech comprehension.
14. What Is ‘Hidden Hearing Loss’? Scientists Detect Symptoms In Young Adults
Hidden hearing loss can be present even in younger people who can pass a standard hearing test.
Research is ongoing that can enhance the accuracy of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with ramifications including better hearing protection, improved workplace noise guidelines, and highly targeted medical therapies.
15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List
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 benefits of better hearing.
What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?