John’s having a difficult time at work because he doesn’t always make out conversations. But he thinks it could be everyone else mumbling. Besides, he believes he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on seeking out a hearing specialist, and hasn’t had a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been cranking up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his ears. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from getting help.
But what John doesn’t recognize is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Because the stigma around hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. Particularly, with younger people, it’s far less pronounced, though you may still encounter it to some extent in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?
Simply put, hearing loss has some social and cultural connections that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. For many, loss of hearing might be regarded as an indication of old age or a loss of vitality. People are often concerned that they will lose social standing if others know they have hearing loss. They feel like they may look old and come off as less “cool”.
This issue might be thought of as inconsequential and not connected to reality. But there are certain very real consequences for people who are trying to deal with the stigma of hearing loss. Some examples include:
- Challenges 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 unnecessary troubled and undesirable outcomes).
- Obstacles in your career (Maybe you were in a meeting and you missed some important facts).
- Job hunting problems (it’s sad to say, 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.
Luckily, this is all transforming, and it truly does feel as if the stigma over hearing loss is on its way out.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are several major reasons why hearing loss stigma is decreasing. Our relationship with technology in addition to demographic changes in our population have begun to change how we experience devices like hearing aids.
It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss
Younger adults are suffering from loss of hearing more frequently and that could certainly be the leading reason for the decline in the stigma associated with it.
Most statistical studies report the number of individuals who suffer from loss of hearing in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (loud noise from numerous sources seems to be the primary factor), but the point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever has been before.
As loss of hearing becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to understand the stigmas and misinformation concerning hearing conditions.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Maybe you were concerned that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost entirely blend in. No one really even sees them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in the majority of situations are very discreet.
But hearing aids also frequently go undetected because these days, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and individual) that no one even pays attention when you have a small piece of practical technology yourself.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other factors for why loss of hearing has a better image right now. Recently, loss of hearing has been portrayed with more consistency (and more humanity) in popular culture, and a few notable celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma about loss of hearing the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to stop hearing loss in every way that’s possible. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing professional as this stigma goes away. This will keep everyone hearing better and enhance overall hearing health.