John’s having a hard time at work because he doesn’t always make out conversations. But he thinks it could be everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing exam. Regrettably, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his ears. So, unfortunately, his denial has stopped him from seeking out help.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s far less evident, even though you might still see it to some degree in some groups. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
Simply put, loss of hearing has some social and cultural associations that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. People are frequently concerned that they might lose social standing if others find out they have hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you look old or not as “cool”.
This problem might be thought of as inconsequential and not connected to reality. But there are a few very real implications for individuals who are attempting to cope with the stigma of hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Putting of on hearing loss treatment (leading to less than ideal outcomes or needless suffering).
- Challenges in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Setbacks in your job (possibly you missed a significant sentence in a company meeting).
- 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 numerous more examples but the point is well made.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is truly disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are several major reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Population demographics are changing and so is our perception of technology.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Maybe the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be a lot more prevalent, especially with younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens deal with hearing loss according to most statical studies, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to get into here (noise from a number of sources appears to be the biggest factor), but the main point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever was before.
As hearing loss becomes more common, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing problems.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first set of hearing aids would make you look old so you resisted using them. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly blend entirely in. No one notices them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in most circumstances are very discreet.
But frequently hearing aids go unobserved because today, everyone has something in their ears. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so nobody cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has a better image these days. In recent years, hearing loss has been depicted with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular culture, and a few prominent celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop loss of hearing in every way that we can. If we could determine a way to counter trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel comfortable making an appointment with their hearing specialist and getting frequent examinations. This will keep everyone hearing better and enhance general hearing health.