This has been a busy year for hearing health, full of new developments, fascinating research, and motivating stories of individuals overcoming hearing loss to accomplish great things.
Just in case you missed it, here’s a recap of the year’s 15 best stories.
This article by New Republic was one of many posts released in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently is the number one disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 60 percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (around 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or ringing in ears.
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 grateful to witness several stories each year about individuals conquering hearing loss to accomplish remarkable things. However every now and then one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right attitude and determination.
Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around her 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 understanding of German.
Which, by the way, makes her trilingual despite an ailment that makes speech comprehension very difficult.
Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate that has done wonders for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the day-to-day issues facing those with hearing loss.
In one of her top posts on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts describes five things she wishes everyone understood about hearing loss.
This is one of many articles cautioning about the risks of earbud use and the expanding number of teens with hearing loss.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing injury from dangerous listening practices, but that most are not hearing the message.
This story is a great reminder for musicians and concert-attendees to protect their hearing during the course of live performances.
AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the United States due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk total 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 hopefully catches on with other bands.
A number of musicians presently are afflicted by hearing loss and tinnitus as a consequence of a lack of hearing protection at shows, including Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Ozzy Osbourne, Grimes, and Chris Martin.
We see several 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. See for yourself and try not to smile while you’re watching.
One of the best 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 discusses how he beat hearing loss and how high-tech hearing aids have enhanced his life.
Starbucks has opened a brand new store dedicated to recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an integral part of the company’s objective to expand opportunities for marginalized groups.
10 of the store’s 13 staff members are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Employees communicate primarily with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can record their orders on note cards.
This is a fascinating 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 associated with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early detection of hearing loss will soon be a standard part of the yearly physical exam.
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 developments.
Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either mask the sound or instruct 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 be able to prevent tinnitus.
As we find out more information on how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing better hearing aids and more efficient 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.
Hidden hearing loss can be present even in younger 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 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 enjoying all of the benefits of better hearing.
What did we leave out? What were your favorite stories of 2016?