John’s having a hard time at work because he doesn’t always hear conversations. He’s in denial and is constantly telling himself that everyone is mumbling. Besides, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding seeking out a hearing professional, and hasn’t gone for a hearing exam. Unfortunately, he’s been doing considerable harm to his ears by cranking up on his earbuds. So, unfortunately, his denial has stopped him from seeking out help.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his ideas are outdated. Because the stigma around loss of hearing is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with younger people, it’s much less evident, though you might still see it to some degree in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social associations with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, incorrect and not beneficial. Loss of vigor and aging are sometimes connected to loss of hearing. People are frequently concerned that they will lose social standing if others find out they suffer from hearing loss. They feel like they might look 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 there are certain very real implications for people who are trying to cope with the stigma around hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Relationship problems (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Putting off treatment of loss of hearing (causing unnecessary troubled and undesirable results).
- Setbacks in your career (possibly you missed an important sentence in a business meeting).
- Job hunting problems (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for quite a while, but you most likely get it.
Thankfully, changes are taking place, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is happening for a number of reasons. Our relationship with technology combined with demographic transformations in our population have begun to alter how we experience things like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Prevalent in Youth
Maybe the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be more and more prevalent, particularly among younger people (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not kids).
Most statistical studies put the number of people who have loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to entering into here (loud noise from several sources appears to be the largest factor), but the main point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever was in the past.
As loss of hearing becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing issues.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Perhaps you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But nowadays hearing aids nearly blend in completely. No one really even sees them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But frequently hearing aids go unobserved because these days, everyone has something in their ears. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you’ve got a small piece of helpful technology yourself.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
Naturally, those two reasons are not the exclusive causes behind the retreat of hearing loss stigma. Much more is generally comprehended about hearing loss and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do all we can to stop hearing loss. If we could determine a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we battle hearing loss stigma that would be ideal.
But at least as the stigma goes away, more people will feel secure scheduling an appointment with their hearing specialist and getting normal examinations. This will keep everyone hearing better and improve general hearing health.