This has been an active year for hearing health, filled with new developments, exciting research, and inspiring stories of people conquering hearing loss to accomplish great things.
Just in case you missed it, here’s a review of the year’s 15 biggest stories.
This post by New Republic was one of many articles released in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss currently represents the number one disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).
In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 60 percent of those returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan (around 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or ringing in ears.
Now that awareness has been raised, the military is focusing on creating helmets that minimize loud blasts while increasing surrounding sound.
2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language
We’re fortunate to witness several stories each year about people overcoming hearing loss to accomplish incredible things. However every once in awhile one 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.
Which, by the way, makes her trilingual in spite of a condition that makes speech comprehension very difficult.
Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate that has done wonderful 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 explains five things she wishes everyone knew about hearing loss.
This is one of several articles cautioning 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 problems due to dangerous listening practices, but that most are not hearing the message.
This story is a good reminder for musicians and concert-attendees 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 loss. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss.
In response to the escalating problem of developing hearing loss and tinnitus at concerts, Pearl Jam supplied earplugs to fans at its concerts in a move that hopefully catches on with other bands.
Several musicians presently 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.
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. See for yourself and try not to smile while you’re watching.
One of the most effective ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a distinguished 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.
Starbucks has opened a brand new store dedicated 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 primarily with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can write down their orders on cards.
This is an intriguing article reminding us of how quickly technology advances.
Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has developed the first blood test that can detect the inner ear proteins associated with inner ear conditions like hearing loss and vertigo.
Perhaps the early catching of hearing loss will soon be a standard component of the annual 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 investigation 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 mask the sound or instruct the patient on how to deal with the sound.
But now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified the first gene that might have the ability to prevent tinnitus.
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 programs to help those with hearing loss to elevate speech recognition.
Stay tuned in 2017 for further breakthroughs in the crucial area of speech comprehension.
Hidden hearing loss could 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 damage in young people, with ramifications including more effective hearing protection, improved workplace noise guidelines, and highly targeted medical therapies.
Finally, here are eight 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 enjoying all of the advantages of better hearing.
What did we leave out? What were your favorite stories of 2016?