John’s having problems at work because he can’t always hear conversations. But he thinks it may be everyone else mumbling. Besides, he thinks he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he hasn’t scheduled a hearing test and has been steering clear of a hearing test. Regrettably, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant damage to his ears. So, sadly, his denial has stopped him from seeking out help.
But what John doesn’t comprehend is that his ideas are outdated. Because the stigma about hearing loss is becoming less common. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s much less evident, though you might still encounter it to some degree in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?
Simply put, loss of hearing has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. Loss of vigor and aging are sometimes associated with loss of hearing. People are often worried that they may lose social status if others recognize they suffer from hearing loss. Some might think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “with it”.
You may be tempted to think of this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous concern, separated from reality. But for individuals who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very real consequences. Some examples include:
- Occupation setbacks (perhaps you didn’t hear an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Putting off treatment of loss of hearing (resulting in less than ideal results or needless suffering).
- Difficulties in your relationships (that wasn’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).
This list could continue for some time, but at this point you most likely get the point.
Fortunately, this is all transforming, and It seems as though the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.
Why is Hearing Loss Stigma Decreasing?
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is occurring for a variety of reasons. Our connection to technology in addition to demographic changes in our population have begun to alter how we experience devices like hearing aids.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Hearing Loss
Maybe the biggest reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is starting to be increasingly common, especially among younger individuals (and we’re speaking largely of young adults not children).
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from hearing loss according to most statical research, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to entering into here (noise from many sources appears to be the biggest factor), but the point is that loss of hearing is more common now than it ever was in the past.
There’s more discussion and understanding about hearing loss as it becomes more common.
We’re More Confident With Technology
Possibly you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were worried they would be an obvious indication that you have a hearing problem. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly blend entirely in. No one really even is aware of them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in the majority of situations are very discreet.
But hearing aids also commonly go undetected because today, everyone’s 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 tiny piece of helpful technology yourself.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
There are other reasons why hearing loss has an improved image lately. Much more is generally comprehended about hearing loss and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss scenarios.
The more we see loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to stop hearing loss in every way that we can. The ideal would be to change the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But at least as the stigma fades, more people will feel comfortable scheduling an appointment with their professionals and getting regular exams. This will keep everybody hearing better and improve overall hearing health.