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HEARING TIPS

The Top Hearing Health Stories of 2016

Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been an active 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 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now is the leading disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).

In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 60 percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (about 600,000) have irreversible hearing loss or ringing in ears.

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

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

We’re grateful to see several stories each year about people overcoming 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 perseverance.

Caroline Aufgebauer, a high school senior, worked around the challenge of 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 in spite of 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 raising awareness of the daily issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her top posts 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 among several articles cautioning about the dangers of earbud use and the expanding number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing damage as a result of unsafe 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 live shows.

AC/DC had to delay its tour in the United States 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

Responding to the growing problem of acquiring hearing loss and tinnitus at live events, Pearl Jam supplied earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that we hope catches on with other bands.

Several musicians presently suffer 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.

7. Watch This Baby’s Face When the Doctor Turns on Her Hearing Aids for the First Time

We see quite a few of these videos every year, video clips of a child hearing for the first time with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.

But 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 raise 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 beat 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 brand new store committed to hiring 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 deaf or hard-of-hearing. Employees communicate principally with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can record their orders on note cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

This is a fascinating article reminding us of how rapidly 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 investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with multiple encouraging breakthroughs.

Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available now either conceal the sound or instruct the patient on how to cope with the sound.

But now researchers at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have uncovered the first gene that may 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 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 enhance speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for further breakthroughs in the fundamental 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 standard hearing test.

Research is underway that can enhance the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with consequences 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 commence the new year than by taking control of your hearing health and making the most of all of the advantages of better hearing.


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

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