John’s been having problems hearing at work. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he feels he’s too young for hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t had a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been cranking up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his hearing. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging he has hearing loss has stopped him from seeking out effective treatments.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his views are antiquated. Because the stigma concerning hearing loss is becoming less common. Particularly, with younger people, it’s much less evident, though you may still see it to some extent in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some social and cultural connections that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes associated with hearing loss. People are often concerned that they may lose social standing if others recognize they suffer from hearing loss. They feel like they may appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You may be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous concern, separated from reality. But for people who are attempting to cope with hearing loss there are some very genuine consequences. Including these examples:
- Difficulties in your relationships (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Delaying proper care of hearing loss (resulting in less than optimal results or needless suffering).
- Job obstacles (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you missed some essential point).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could continue for a while, but you most likely get the idea.
Luckily, changes are happening, and it really does seem as though the stigma around loss of hearing is fading away.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is occurring for several reasons. Our connection to technology along with demographic changes in our population have begun to alter how we feel about things like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Prevalent in Younger People
Younger adults are dealing with hearing loss more often and that could very well be the leading reason for the decrease in the stigma associated with it.
Most statistical research put the number of people who dealing with loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to entering into here (noise from many sources seems to be the largest problem), but the point is that hearing loss is more common now than it ever was in the past.
There is more discussion and understanding about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But nowadays hearing aids almost completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But often hearing aids go undetected because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and individual) that no one even pays attention when you have a tiny piece of helpful technology yourself.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other factors for why hearing loss has a better image lately. Much more is commonly comprehended about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
There will continue to be less stigma about loss of hearing the more we see it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. If we could determine a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This will keep everybody hearing better and improve general hearing health.