Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been a lively year for hearing health, filled with new developments, fascinating 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 article by New Republic was one of several articles released in 2016 featuring the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently represents the number one disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).

In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 60 percent of those returning home 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 fortunate to witness several stories each year about individuals conquering hearing loss to accomplish amazing things. However on occasion one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right mindset and determination.

Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around the challenge 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 knowledge of German.

Which, by the way, makes her trilingual despite 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 everyday issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her more 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 risks of earbud use and the escalating number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage due to unsafe 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 the course of live shows.

AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US as a consequence of lead singer 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 growing problem of developing hearing loss and tinnitus at live shows, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that we hope catches on with other bands.

Several musicians presently 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 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 best ways to raise 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 talks about how he beat 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 brand 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 employees are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Workers communicate mainly with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can record their orders on cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

This is a cool article reminding us of how aggressively 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 disorders like hearing loss and vertigo.

Perhaps the early diagnosis of hearing loss will before long be a standard part 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 investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with several promising findings.

Tinnitus is challenging to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available now either cover up the sound or advise the patient on how to cope with the sound.

However now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have uncovered the first gene that might be able 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 more effective hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to enhance speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional breakthroughs 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 people who can pass a basic hearing test.

Research is ongoing that can improve the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with consequences including more effective hearing protection, better workplace noise standards, and highly targeted medical treatments.

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 advantages of better hearing.

What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?

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