John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. Besides, he thinks he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing exam and has been steering clear of a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant damage to his hearing. So, unfortunately, his denial has stopped him from seeking help.
But John’s outlook is older than he believes. Because the stigma around hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma surrounding hearing loss, it’s far less pronounced than it used to be, especially among younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The social and cultural connections with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, incorrect and not beneficial. For many, hearing loss may be seen as a sign of aging or a loss of vitality. The fear is that you’ll lose some social status if you acknowledge you have hearing loss. They feel like they might appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You may be tempted to think of this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous concern, separated from reality. But there are a few very real consequences for people who are attempting to deal with the stigma of hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Occupation obstacles (maybe you didn’t hear a critical sentence in a business meeting).
- Setbacks in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Putting of on hearing loss treatment (leading to less than ideal results or unnecessary suffering).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, 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 the idea.
Thankfully, changes are happening, and it genuinely does feel as though the stigma over loss of hearing is on its way out.
The End of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are numerous substantial reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Our connection to technology combined with demographic changes in our population have started to change how we feel about things like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are suffering from hearing loss more frequently and that could certainly be the biggest reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
Most statistical studies report the number of people with loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (noise from several sources appears to be the biggest factor), but the point is that loss of hearing is more common now than it ever has been before.
There’s more discussion and understanding about hearing loss as it becomes more common.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing condition. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly entirely blend in. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But often hearing aids go unnoticed 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’ve got a little piece of useful technology yourself.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has an improved image right now. In recent years, hearing loss has been portrayed with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular culture, and a few notable celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss stories.
The more we observe loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to prevent loss of hearing in every way that we can. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while battling against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma goes away, more people will feel comfortable making an appointment with their hearing care specialists and getting routine exams. This will keep everybody hearing better and improve overall hearing health.