John’s been experiencing problems hearing at work. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is mumbling. Besides, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by cranking up on his earbuds. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging he has loss of hearing has prevented him from seeking out effective solutions.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his views are antiquated. Hearing loss doesn’t carry the stigma that it used to. While in some groups, there’s still a stigma surrounding hearing loss, it’s far less apparent than it was in the past, especially with younger generations. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social associations with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, untrue and not beneficial. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes connected to hearing loss. People are frequently concerned that they may lose social status if others know they have hearing loss. They feel like they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous concern, detached from reality. But there are some very real consequences for individuals who are trying to deal with the stigma around hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Avoiding hearing loss management (resulting in less than ideal results or needless suffering).
- Setbacks in your career (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some relevant facts).
- Relationship setbacks (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, 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.
Luckily, this is all changing, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are numerous significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Population demographics are changing as is our relationship with technology.
More Younger Adults Are Suffering From Hearing Loss
Perhaps the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming a lot more common, specifically with younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not kids).
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from loss of hearing according to most statical studies, which translates into 1 in 10 people. Most likely, 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 prevalent, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation concerning hearing issues.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Maybe you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be an obvious sign that you have a hearing problem. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly blend entirely in. No one notices them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But often hearing aids go unobserved because today, everyone has something in their ears. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and personal) that no one even pays attention when you have a tiny piece of useful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other reasons why hearing loss has an improved image these days. Much more is commonly understood about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding loss of hearing the more we observe it in the world. Of course, now we are trying to do everything we can to prevent hearing loss. If we could determine a way to reverse 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 comfortable scheduling an appointment with their professionals and having frequent screenings. This can help improve overall hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.