Woman holding her hand to her ear

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

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 many articles published in 2016 highlighting the prominence of hearing loss among veterans. Hearing loss now represents the leading disability for veterans (leading 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 working on creating helmets that minimize loud blasts while amplifying ambient 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 accomplish incredible things. However every now and then one comes along that reminds us of what is possible with the right mindset 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.

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 great things for the hearing loss community by growing awareness of the everyday issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her popular posts 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 of many articles warning 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 problems as a consequence 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 due to frontman Brian Johnson’s hearing condition. Doctors instructed Johnson to stop touring right away or risk complete hearing loss.

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

In response to the growing problem of developing hearing loss and tinnitus at concerts, Pearl Jam provided earplugs to fans at its concerts in an action that we hope catches on with other bands.

A number of musicians currently are suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus as a consequence of 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.

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 best ways to raise awareness of hearing loss and eliminate the stigma of hearing aids is to have a famous public figure speak on the subject.

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 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 employing deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, as an essential part of the company’s mission to increase opportunities for marginalized groups.

10 of the store’s 13 staff members are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Staff members communicate mainly 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 cool article reminding us of how aggressively 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 catching 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 promising breakthroughs.

Tinnitus is tough to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available today either mask the sound or instruct the patient on how to deal with the sound.

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

Stay tuned in 2017 for additional developments 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 basic hearing test.

Research is ongoing that can enhance the accuracy of hearing testing and expose hearing damage in young people, with ramifications including more effective hearing protection, better workplace noise guidelines, and targeted medical treatments.

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

And last, here are eight good 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 enjoying all of the advantages of better hearing.


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

Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call Us Today