John’s been having difficulty hearing at work. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is mumbling. What’s more, he feels he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by cranking up the volume on his earbuds. Sadly, his reluctance to admitting that he has hearing loss has stopped him from looking for practical solutions.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Because the stigma around loss of hearing is becoming less common. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma around hearing loss, it’s much less pronounced than it used to be, especially among younger people. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
The cultural and social connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, false and not helpful. Loss of vigor and aging are sometimes connected to hearing loss. People are often concerned that they may lose social status if others recognize they suffer from hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you look old or not as “cool”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous issue, isolated from reality. But for people who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very real repercussions. Some examples include:
- Delaying management of hearing loss (leading to less than ideal outcomes or needless suffering).
- Relationship problems (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Obstacles in your job (maybe you didn’t hear an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Job hunting problems (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are several more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, changes are occurring, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is truly disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is happening for a variety of reasons. Population demographics are changing as is our perception of technology.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Hearing Loss
Perhaps the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming increasingly common, specifically with younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not kids).
Most statistical studies report the number of individuals with hearing loss in the U.S. around 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. In all likelihood, loud noises from a number of modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more common than ever before.
As hearing loss becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and misinformation concerning hearing issues.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Perhaps you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But now hearing aids almost completely blend in. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But hearing aids also frequently go unobserved because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and personal) that no one even pays attention when you have a little piece of helpful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
There are other factors for why hearing loss has a better image right now. Much more is generally comprehended about hearing loss and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
The more we see loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to stop loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. If we could find a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel secure making an appointment with their hearing specialist and having normal screenings. This will help enhance overall hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.