Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been a busy year for hearing health, filled with new developments, fascinating research, and inspiring stories of people overcoming hearing loss to accomplish great things.

Just 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 many posts published 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 irreparable hearing loss or ringing in ears.

Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on developing helmets that mitigate loud blasts while amplifying ambient sound.

2. When it comes to a challenge, she speaks the language

We’re privileged to witness several stories each year about people conquering hearing loss to achieve amazing things. But on occasion one story 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, Latin, and Spanish (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 an ailment 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 great things for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the day-to-day issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her more popular articles on her blog Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts describes 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 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 problems caused by 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-goers to safeguard their hearing during the course of live shows.

AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the United States as a consequence of lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring right away or risk total hearing loss.

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

Responding 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 we hope catches on with other bands.

A number of musicians currently 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 several of these videos every 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. 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 distinguished public figure speak on the issue.

In this post, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond discusses 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 brand new store committed to hiring deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as a vital part of the company’s objective to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 employees are deaf or hard-of-hearing. 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 an intriguing article reminding us of how quickly technology progresses.

Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has introduced the first blood test that can detect the inner ear proteins linked with inner ear disorders like hearing loss and vertigo.

Perhaps the early diagnosis of hearing loss will soon be a routine part of the annual 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 encouraging findings.

Tinnitus is difficult to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments currently available either conceal the sound or advise the patient on how to deal with the sound.

But now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified the first gene that may be able to prevent tinnitus.

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

As we learn more and more how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing better hearing aids and better training programs to help those with hearing loss to augment speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional 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 younger people who can pass a standard hearing test.

Research is ongoing that can improve the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with ramifications including better 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 commence the new year than by taking charge of your hearing health and making the most of all of the rewards of better hearing.


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

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