John’s having a difficult time at work because he can’t always hear conversations. But he feels like it might be everyone else mumbling. Besides, he believes he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he has been avoiding finding a hearing professional, and hasn’t had a hearing examination. Unfortunately, he’s been pumping up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant damage to his hearing. Sadly, his resistance to admitting that he has hearing loss has prevented him from getting effective treatments.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it used to. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma around hearing loss, it’s far less pronounced than it was in the past, particularly with younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, hearing loss has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always necessarily true or helpful. Loss of vigor and aging are sometimes associated with hearing loss. People are often worried that they may lose social standing if others know they suffer from hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you appear old or not as “cool”.
This issue might be thought of as unimportant and not connected to reality. But for individuals 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).
- Putting off treatment of loss of hearing (causing unnecessary struggling and poor outcomes).
- Setbacks in your occupation (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you missed some significant information).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for some time, but you probably get it.
Luckily, changes are occurring, and it genuinely does feel as though the stigma over hearing loss is fading away.
The Demise of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are numerous major reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Our relationship with technology combined with demographic transformations in our population have begun to change how we experience devices like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are dealing with hearing loss more often and that could certainly be the biggest reason for the decrease in the stigma connected to it.
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from loss of hearing according to most statical research, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. More than likely, loud noises from several modern sources are the leading reason why this loss of hearing is more common than it’s ever been.
As loss of hearing becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing issues.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Perhaps you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be an obvious indication that you have a hearing condition. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids pretty much entirely blend in. No one notices them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in most circumstances are very discreet.
But hearing aids also frequently go unobserved because these days, everyone has something in their ears. Everyone is used to having technology so nobody is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other factors for why hearing loss has a better image these days. Much more is commonly understood about hearing loss and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
There will continue to be less stigma concerning loss of hearing the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to prevent hearing loss in every way that’s possible. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This will help improve general hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.