John’s been having trouble hearing at work. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else mumbling. What’s more, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he has been avoiding finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t had a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been doing considerable harm to his ears by pumping up the volume on his earbuds. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from seeking out help.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his ideas are antiquated. Hearing loss doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s far less apparent than it was previously, especially with younger generations. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
The social and cultural connections with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, false and not helpful. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes connected to loss of hearing. The concern is that you’ll lose some social status if you disclose you have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you look old or not as “with it”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as a rather amorphous concern, detached from reality. But there are certain very real consequences for individuals who are attempting to deal with the stigma around hearing loss. Here are some examples:
- Putting of on hearing loss treatment (causing needless troubled and poor results).
- Relationship problems (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Setbacks in your occupation (Perhaps you were attending a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some relevant information).
- 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.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is truly disappearing.
The Demise of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is taking place for several reasons. Our connection to technology coupled with demographic changes in our population have begun to change how we experience devices like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Youth
Younger adults are suffering from loss of hearing more frequently and that could certainly be the number one reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
34 million U.S. citizens deal with hearing loss according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (loud noise from a number of sources appears to be the biggest factor), but the point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever has been before.
As loss of hearing becomes more prevalent, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing problems.
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 problem But nowadays hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one notices them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in the majority of situations are very discreet.
But in many cases hearing aids go undetected because today, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and individual) that no one even pays attention when you’ve got a small piece of practical technology yourself.
A Shift in Thinking Long Overdue
Naturally, those two reasons are not the exclusive causes for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Recently, hearing loss has been portrayed with more consistency (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few notable celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma concerning hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while fighting against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing professional as this stigma fades away. This will keep people hearing better and enhance general hearing health.