HEARING TIPS

Conquering Hearing Loss: The Best Stories from 2016

Woman holding her hand to her ear

This has been an active year for hearing health, full of new developments, fascinating research, and inspiring stories of people conquering hearing loss to achieve great things.

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

1. Full Metal Racket

This article by New Republic was one of several articles released in 2016 emphasizing the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss today is the number one disability for veterans (leading even PTSD).

In fact, the Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that 60 percent of those returning 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 minimize loud blasts while amplifying 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 people conquering hearing loss to accomplish incredible things. But from time to time 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 her 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.

That, by the way, makes her trilingual in spite of a condition 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 amazing things for the hearing loss community by building awareness of the everyday issues facing individuals with hearing loss.

In one of her top articles on her blog 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 risks of earbud use and the growing 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 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 shows.

AC/DC had to postpone its tour in the US due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing loss. Doctors instructed 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 escalating 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 dealing 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 quite a few 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. 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 most effective ways to increase awareness of hearing loss and eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a notable public figure speak on the issue.

In this article, 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 enhanced his life.

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

Starbucks has opened a new store committed to recruiting deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as a key part of the company’s objective to expand opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 staff members are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Workers communicate principally with sign-language, and customers without hearing loss can record their orders on cards.

10. Detecting Hearing Loss, Vertigo Via Blood Tests

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

Dr. Kourosh Parham, a UConn physician-scientist, has introduced 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 before long 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 search for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with several promising findings.

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

However now scientists at the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered 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 understand more and more how the brain processes and interprets sound and speech, we can start developing better hearing aids and better programs to help those with hearing loss to strengthen speech recognition.

Stay tuned in 2017 for further developments in the crucial 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 ongoing that can improve the precision of hearing testing and expose hearing problems in young people, with ramifications including more efficient hearing protection, improved workplace noise guidelines, and highly targeted medical therapies.

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

And 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 enjoying all of the benefits of better hearing.


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

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