Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been an active year for hearing health, packed with new developments, exciting research, and encouraging stories of people overcoming hearing loss to accomplish great things.

In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the year’s 15 best stories.

1. Full Metal Racket

This article by New Republic was one of several articles published in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now represents the number one disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).

In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs states that 60 percent of those returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan (around 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.

Now that awareness has been raised, the military is focusing on developing helmets that mitigate loud blasts while increasing 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 individuals conquering hearing loss to achieve incredible things. But on occasion one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right perspective 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, Latin, and Spanish (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic familiarity with 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 great things for the hearing loss community by boosting awareness of the daily issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her most popular posts on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts explains 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 many articles cautioning about the hazards of earbud use and the escalating number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing injury from dangerous 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 great reminder for musicians and concert-attendees to safeguard their hearing during live performances.

AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the US due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss.

6. Pearl Jam providing earplugs at upcoming concerts to prevent hearing loss

Responding to the growing problem of acquiring 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 as a consequence of 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 variety of of these videos each year, videos 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. See for yourself 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 distinguished public figure speak on the subject.

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 changed his life.

9. The cool reason you won’t hear baristas shouting drink orders at this Starbucks

Starbucks has launched a new store committed to hiring 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 hard-of-hearing or deaf. Employees communicate principally 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 aggressively technology advances.

Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has developed the first blood test that can identify 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 investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple encouraging breakthroughs.

Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments currently 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 might have the ability to prevent tinnitus.

13. Researchers identify part of the brain that compensates for hearing loss in older adults

As we find out more and more how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing more effective hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to maximize speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for further developments in the critical area of speech comprehension.

14. What Is ‘Hidden Hearing Loss’? Scientists Detect Symptoms In Young Adults

Hidden hearing loss can be present even in young adults who can pass a regular hearing test.

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

15. 8 Rousing Reasons to Put a Hearing Test at the Top of Your “Done” List

And last, here are eight good reasons to get a hearing test, published by Better Hearing Institute. There’s no better way to commence the new year than by taking control of your hearing health and enjoying all of the advantages of better hearing.

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

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