John’s been having problems hearing at work. But he thinks it may be everyone else not speaking clearly. Besides, he thinks he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing exam and has been steering clear of a hearing exam. Regrettably, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable damage to his ears. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from getting help.
But what John doesn’t comprehend 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 much less apparent than it used to be, especially with younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Simply put, loss of hearing has some social and cultural connections that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. For some, loss of hearing might be regarded as an indication of old age or a loss of vitality. People are frequently worried that they may lose social status if others find out they suffer from hearing loss. They feel like they might appear old and come off as less “cool”.
This issue might be thought of as trivial and not associated with reality. But for individuals who are attempting to deal with loss of hearing there are some very real repercussions. Some examples include:
- Job setbacks (maybe you didn’t hear an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Challenges in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Putting off proper care of loss of hearing (leading to less than optimal results or needless suffering).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are several more examples but the point is well made.
Thankfully, this is all changing, and it truly does seem as though the stigma over hearing loss is fading away.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Diminishing?
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is occurring for several reasons. Population demographics are changing as is our perception of technology.
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.
Most statistical studies put the number of people who have loss of hearing in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (noise from numerous sources seems to be the biggest factor), but the main point is that hearing loss is more common now than it ever has been before.
As hearing loss becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and false information surrounding hearing problems.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Maybe you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were worried they would be an obvious sign that you have a hearing problem. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost blend entirely in. No one notices them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But often hearing aids go undetected because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one even pays attention when you have a little piece of helpful technology yourself.
A Change in Thinking Long Overdue
Of course, those two reasons are not the only causes for the retreat of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, loss of hearing has been portrayed with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular society, and several prominent celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss stories.
There will continue to be less stigma about hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop 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 ideal.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing professional as this stigma fades away. This will keep people hearing better and enhance general hearing health.