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Woman holding her hand to her ear

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

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

1. Full Metal Racket

This article by New Republic was one of many articles released in 2016 featuring 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 estimates that 60 percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan (about 600,000) have permanent hearing loss or ringing in ears.

Now that awareness has been raised, the military is working on developing helmets that mitigate loud blasts while increasing ambient sound.

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

We’re fortunate to witness several stories each year about individuals conquering hearing loss to achieve remarkable things. However every now and then 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 the obstacle of hearing loss to learn not one, not two, but three languages. She speaks English, Spanish, and Latin (earning special recognition for her performance on the national Spanish exam) and has a basic familiarity with German.

Which, by the way, makes her trilingual in spite of 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 daily issues facing those with hearing loss.

In one of her more popular posts on her website Living With Hearing Loss, Eberts talks about 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 of several articles warning about the dangers of earbud use and the escalating number of teens with hearing loss.

It’s estimated that 30 percent of teens have hearing injury due to 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 good reminder for musicians and concert-goers to protect their hearing during the course of 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 right away or risk total hearing loss.

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

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

Several musicians currently suffer from 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 every year, videos of a child hearing for the first time with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants.

However this specific 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 topic.

In this article, FUBU founder, Shark Tank star, investor, and best-selling author John Daymond talks about 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 opened a new store committed to hiring 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 employees are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Employees communicate primarily 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 cool article reminding us of how rapidly technology advances.

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

Perhaps the early detection of hearing loss will soon be a standard 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 investigation for the cure for tinnitus continued in 2016, with several encouraging developments.

Tinnitus is challenging to diagnose and treat, and the best treatments available now either conceal the sound or guide the patient on how to cope 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 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 strengthen 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 regular hearing test.

Research is underway that can improve the precision of hearing testing and uncover hearing problems in young people, with consequences including more effective hearing protection, better workplace noise standards, and 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 begin the new year than by taking control of your hearing health and experiencing all of the advantages of better hearing.

What did we miss? What were your favorite stories of 2016?

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