This has been a lively year for hearing health, filled with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of individuals 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 post by New Republic was one of many articles released in 2016 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today is the leading disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs states that 60 percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (around 600,000) have irreversible hearing loss or tinnitus.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is focusing on developing helmets that mitigate loud blasts while amplifying surrounding 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. But every once in a while one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right frame of mind and perseverance.
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, 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 very 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 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 talks about 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 several articles cautioning 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 from 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 good reminder for musicians and concert-goers to protect their hearing during the course of live performances.
AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the United States due to lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring right away or risk total hearing loss.
6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss
In response to the escalating problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam supplied earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that hopefully catches on with other bands.
A number of musicians currently are suffering from 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 a number of these videos each year, video clips 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 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 issue.
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 enhanced 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 recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as part of the company’s objective to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.
10 of the store’s 13 staff members are hard-of-hearing or deaf. Staff members communicate mainly 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 quickly technology progresses.
Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has developed the first blood test that can recognize the inner ear proteins linked with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early catching of hearing loss will soon be a standard 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 search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with several promising breakthroughs.
Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments now available either conceal the sound or instruct 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 better hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to improve 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 basic hearing test.
Research is ongoing that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with consequences including more effective hearing protection, improved workplace noise standards, 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 making the most of all of the advantages of better hearing.
What did we leave out? What were your favorite stories of 2016?