John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. But he feels like it might be everyone else mumbling. What’s more, he feels he’s too young for hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t had a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been doing considerable damage to his ears by turning up on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to admitting he has hearing loss has stopped him from getting effective solutions.
But John’s outlook is older than he believes. Hearing loss doesn’t have the stigma that it once did. Specifically, with younger people, it’s far less evident, though you might still encounter it to some degree in some groups. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
Put simply, hearing loss has some cultural and social associations that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. For many, loss of hearing might be viewed as a sign of aging or a loss of vitality. People are frequently concerned that they could lose social standing if others know they suffer from hearing loss. They feel they might appear old and come off as less “cool”.
This issue might be thought of as insignificant and not connected to reality. But for individuals who are attempting to cope with loss of hearing there are some very genuine consequences. Including these examples:
- Challenges in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Career setbacks (Perhaps you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some significant facts).
- Putting off management of hearing loss (leading to less than ideal outcomes or unnecessary 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 many more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, changes are happening, and it genuinely does feel as if the stigma around loss of hearing is fading away.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are a number of significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Our relationship with technology combined with demographic transformations in our population have started to alter how we feel about devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Suffering From Hearing Loss
Maybe the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be a lot more prevalent, specifically with younger people (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens deal with hearing loss according to most statical research, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to get into here (noise from multiple sources seems to be the largest factor), but the point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever has been before.
There is more discussion and knowledge about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
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 condition. But nowadays hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But in many cases hearing aids go undetected because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to having technology so nobody cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has a better image these days. Much more is commonly understood about hearing loss and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
The more we see hearing loss 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. If we could determine a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel secure making an appointment with their hearing care specialists and getting regular exams. This can help enhance general hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.