John’s been having trouble hearing at work. But he thinks it might be everyone else mumbling. He thinks that you should be old to wear hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing exam and has been avoiding a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by pumping up the volume on his earbuds. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from seeking out help.
But John’s perspective is older than he realizes. Because the stigma about hearing loss is becoming less common. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma about hearing loss, it’s far less apparent than it was previously, especially among younger people. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. Loss of vitality and aging are sometimes connected to loss of hearing. People are commonly concerned that they may lose social status if others find out they have hearing loss. They feel like they may appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You may be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous problem, detached from reality. But for people who are trying to deal with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Here are some examples:
- Career setbacks (Perhaps you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some essential point).
- Difficulties 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 optimal outcomes 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 numerous more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, this is all changing, and it truly does seem as though the stigma surrounding loss of hearing is fading away.
The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are numerous substantial reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Population demographics are changing as is our connection to technology.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are dealing with loss of hearing more often and that could certainly be the leading reason for the decrease in the stigma associated with it.
Most statistical studies put the number of people who dealing with loss of hearing in the U.S. about 34 million, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. In all likelihood, loud noises from a number of modern sources are the primary reason why this hearing loss is more common than ever before.
There is more discussion and understanding about loss of hearing as it becomes more common.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Possibly you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were worried they would be a noticeable indication that you have a hearing problem But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost blend entirely in. No one really even sees them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But in many cases hearing aids go unnoticed because today, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so no one is concerned if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other factors for why hearing loss has an improved image lately. Recently, loss of hearing has been portrayed with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and a few notable celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss stories.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do everything we can to prevent hearing loss. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while battling against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel comfortable scheduling an appointment with their hearing care specialists and getting frequent examinations. This will keep people hearing better and enhance general hearing health.