John’s been having difficulty hearing at work. He’s in denial and continues telling himself that everyone is mumbling. What’s more, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been steering clear of a hearing test. Regrettably, he’s been pumping up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant damage to his ears. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging that he has loss of hearing has stopped him from looking for practical treatments.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his ideas are antiquated. Because the stigma concerning loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. Particularly, with younger people, it’s much less pronounced, though you might still see it to some degree in some circles. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
Simply put, hearing loss has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always fundamentally helpful or true. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes connected to hearing loss. People are often concerned that they may lose social standing if others find out they have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you appear older or not as “cool”.
You might be tempted to think of this stigma as a rather amorphous concern, isolated from reality. But for individuals who are attempting to deal with hearing loss there are some very real consequences. Including these examples:
- Relationship problems (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Delaying treatment of hearing loss (causing unnecessary troubled and poor outcomes).
- Job obstacles (maybe you missed a critical sentence in a business meeting).
- 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).
There are quite a few more examples but the point is well made.
Thankfully, this is all changing, and it really does feel as though the stigma around hearing loss is fading away.
The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is taking place for a number of reasons. Our connection to technology and also demographic changes in our population have started to change how we experience things like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Possibly the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming a lot more prevalent, particularly among younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not kids).
Most statistical studies report the number of people with loss of hearing in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. In all likelihood, loud noises from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this hearing loss is more widespread than it’s ever been.
There is more discussion and knowledge about hearing loss as it becomes more common.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Maybe you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted using them. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly entirely blend in. No one notices them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in most cases are very discreet.
But hearing aids also frequently go unobserved because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to having technology so no one cares if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has a better image lately. Much more is generally understood about hearing loss and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we are trying to do everything we can to prevent hearing loss. If we could determine a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be ideal.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This will keep people hearing better and improve general hearing health.