John’s having a hard time at work because he doesn’t always make out conversations. But he thinks it might be everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he thinks he’s too young for hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing exam and has been avoiding a hearing exam. But in the meantime, he’s been doing considerable damage to his ears by turning up the volume on his earbuds. So, unfortunately, his denial has prevented him from getting help.
But John’s outlook is more outdated than he recognizes. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it used to. Specifically, with younger people, it’s far less pronounced, even though you might still encounter 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 loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, false and not beneficial. Loss of vitality and aging are oftentimes connected to hearing loss. People are commonly concerned that they may lose social standing if others recognize they have hearing loss. They feel like they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
This problem could be thought of as unimportant and not associated with reality. But for individuals who are attempting to cope with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Including these examples:
- Setbacks in your career (perhaps you didn’t hear a critical sentence in a company meeting).
- Putting off treatment of loss of hearing (leading to less than ideal outcomes or unnecessary struggling).
- Challenges in your relationships (that wasn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
- Difficulty finding employment (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 changing, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is truly disappearing.
Why is Hearing Loss Stigma Diminishing?
This decline in hearing loss stigma is happening for a variety of reasons. Our relationship with technology and also demographic changes in our population have begun to change how we experience devices like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Younger People
Possibly the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be increasingly common, particularly among younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens have loss of hearing according to most statical studies, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. In all probability, loud noises from many modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more prevalent than ever before.
There’s more discussion and understanding about loss of hearing as it becomes more common.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable indication that you have a hearing problem. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly blend entirely in. No one notices them. In many cases, newer hearing aids are small and subtle.
But hearing aids also typically go undetected because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you’ve got a tiny piece of useful technology yourself.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
Of course, those two factors are not the only causes for the retreat of hearing loss stigma. Much more is generally comprehended about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
The more we observe loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to prevent hearing loss in every way that we can. If we could find 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 ends, more people will feel comfortable scheduling an appointment with their hearing specialist and undergoing routine screenings. This will keep everybody hearing better and enhance general hearing health.