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

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

1. Full Metal Racket

This post by New Republic was one of several posts released in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now is the leading disability for veterans (topping even PTSD).

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

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

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

We’re fortunate to witness a number of stories each year about individuals conquering hearing loss to achieve remarkable things. But once in awhile 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 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 an ailment 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 raising awareness of the day-to-day issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her top articles 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 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 great reminder for musicians and concert-goers to safeguard their hearing during live performances.

AC/DC had to put off its tour in the US as a consequence of lead singer Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring immediately or risk complete hearing loss.

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

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

Several musicians currently 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 every 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. 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 increase awareness of hearing loss and reduce the stigma of hearing aids is to have a respected public figure speak on the subject.

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

10 of the store’s 13 employees are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Staff members communicate primarily with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can write down their orders on note cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

This is a fascinating article reminding us of how rapidly technology progresses.

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

Perhaps the early detection of hearing loss will soon be a routine component 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 several encouraging findings.

Tinnitus is challenging 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 uncovered 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 understand more about how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can begin developing better hearing aids and more efficient 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 younger people who can pass a standard hearing test.

Research is underway that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with consequences including more effective 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 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 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?