John’s been experiencing difficulty hearing at work. But he thinks it might be everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he thinks he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on seeking out 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 ears. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has loss of hearing has prevented him from looking for practical solutions.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s much less apparent than it was previously, particularly among younger generations. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
The social and cultural connections with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, incorrect and not beneficial. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with loss of hearing. The fear is that you’ll lose some social standing if you disclose you have loss of hearing. Some may think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “with it”.
You might be tempted to think of this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous concern, isolated from reality. But for people who are trying to cope with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Including these examples:
- Putting off management of loss of hearing (resulting in less than optimal results or unnecessary struggling).
- Difficulties in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Occupation obstacles (perhaps you didn’t hear a significant sentence in a company meeting).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could continue for quite some time, but you most likely get it.
Luckily, this is all transforming, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is happening for several reasons. Our connection to technology combined with demographic transformations in our population have begun to alter how we feel about devices like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Younger People
Younger adults are dealing with loss of hearing more frequently and that could certainly be the leading reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
Most statistical research report the number of individuals who dealing with hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. More than likely, loud sounds from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this loss of hearing is more common than it’s ever been.
As loss of hearing becomes more prevalent, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing conditions.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Possibly you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were worried they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing condition. But today hearing aids almost completely blend in. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in the majority of cases are very subtle.
But often hearing aids go unobserved because today, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has an improved image lately. Much more is commonly understood about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
The more we observe loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do all 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 secure scheduling an appointment with their hearing specialist and getting regular examinations. This will keep people hearing better and enhance general hearing health.