Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been a busy year for hearing health, packed with new developments, fascinating research, and encouraging stories of individuals overcoming hearing loss to achieve great things.

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

1. Full Metal Racket

This post by New Republic was one of many articles released in 2016 featuring the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today is the leading 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 (approximately 600,000) have irreversible hearing loss or tinnitus.

Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on creating 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 overcoming hearing loss to accomplish extraordinary things. But every now and then one story comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right state of mind and determination.

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, 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.

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 those with hearing loss.

In one of her popular articles on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts explains 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 negative effects of earbud use and the escalating number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing problems as a consequence of 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 protect their hearing during the course of live shows.

AC/DC had to delay its tour in the US as a consequence of frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk total hearing loss.

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

In response to the escalating problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at live shows, Pearl Jam supplied earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that hopefully catches on with other bands.

Several musicians presently are afflicted with hearing loss and tinnitus due to a lack of hearing protection at shows, including Pete Townshend, Eric Clapton, Ozzy Osbourne, Grimes, 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.

However this particular 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 reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a prominent public figure speak on the subject.

In this article, 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 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 deaf or hard-of-hearing. Workers 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 fascinating article reminding us of how quickly technology advances.

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

Perhaps the early diagnosis of hearing loss will before long 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 search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple encouraging findings.

Tinnitus is challenging to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments now available either cover up 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 learn more information on how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing better hearing aids and more efficient training programs to help those with hearing loss to maximize speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional developments in the vital 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 basic hearing test.

Research is underway that can improve the accuracy of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with ramifications including better hearing protection, improved 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 great 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 making the most of all of the benefits of better hearing.


What did we leave out? What were your favorite stories of 2016?

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