John’s been having trouble hearing at work. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else mumbling. Besides, he believes he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on finding a hearing professional, and hasn’t had a hearing exam. Regrettably, he’s been cranking up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his hearing. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from seeking out help.
But John’s outlook is more outdated than he thinks. Because the stigma concerning hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s much less evident, though you might still see it to some degree in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some cultural and social associations that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with loss of hearing. People are commonly worried that they will lose social status if others find out they have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you seem older or not as “cool”.
This problem might be thought of as trivial and not connected to reality. But for individuals who are attempting to deal with loss of hearing there are some very genuine repercussions. Some examples include:
- Putting off proper care of hearing loss (leading to needless troubled and undesirable results).
- Occupation setbacks (perhaps you didn’t hear a critical sentence in a business meeting).
- Difficulties in your relationships (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- 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 many more examples but the point is well made.
Luckily, this is all transforming, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are several substantial reasons why hearing loss stigma is declining. Population demographics are transforming as is our perception of technology.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Younger People
Younger adults are suffering from loss of hearing more frequently and that could certainly be the number one reason for the decrease in the stigma associated with it.
34 million U.S. citizens deal with loss of hearing according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (noise from several sources seems to be the largest factor), but the main point is that hearing loss is more prevalent now than it ever has been in the past.
As loss of hearing becomes more common, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing issues.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Possibly you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing condition But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids virtually blend entirely in. No one really even sees them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in the majority of situations are very discreet.
But hearing aids also frequently go unobserved because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you’ve got a small piece of useful technology yourself.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
There are other factors for why hearing loss has an improved image lately. In recent years, hearing loss has been portrayed with more accuracy (and more humanity) in popular society, and several notable celebrities have come out with their own hearing loss stories.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to stop loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be ideal.
But more people will begin to be ok with seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma fades away. This will help improve general hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.