John’s been experiencing difficulty hearing at work. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else mumbling. What’s more, he thinks he’s too young for hearing aids, so he’s been avoiding finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing test. Regrettably, he’s been cranking up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his ears. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging that he has loss of hearing has prevented him from getting effective solutions.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his views are antiquated. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it used to. Specifically, with younger people, it’s much less pronounced, even though you might still encounter it to some extent in some groups. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always necessarily true or helpful. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes connected to hearing loss. The worry is that you’ll lose some social standing if you admit you have hearing loss. They feel they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
This problem could be thought of as unimportant and not connected to reality. But for people who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very real consequences. Including these examples:
- Relationship setbacks (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Job setbacks (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you missed some crucial facts).
- Delaying treatment of loss of hearing (leading to unnecessary suffering and undesirable outcomes).
- 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 a while, but you most likely get it.
Luckily, changes are happening, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is really going away.
The End of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is happening for a number of reasons. Our relationship with technology in addition to demographic transformations in our population have begun to change how we feel about things like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Youth
Younger adults are dealing with loss of hearing more often and that could very well be the number one reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
Most statistical studies put the number of individuals with loss of hearing in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. In all likelihood, loud noises from many modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more widespread than it’s ever been.
As hearing loss becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and false information concerning hearing problems.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first set of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But today hearing aids nearly completely blend in. No one notices them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever before and in most circumstances are very subtle.
But frequently hearing aids go unobserved because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Everyone is used to having technology so no one cares if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due
There are other reasons why hearing loss has a better image right now. Recently, hearing loss has been portrayed with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular culture, and a few prominent celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
The more we observe loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to stop loss of hearing in every way that we can. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while fighting against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma goes away, more people will feel comfortable making an appointment with their professionals and having frequent screenings. This can help enhance overall hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.