John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he feels he’s too young for hearing aids, so he has been avoiding finding a hearing specialist, and hasn’t had a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been doing significant harm to his ears by pumping up the volume on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to admitting that he has hearing loss has stopped him from looking for practical treatments.
But John’s attitude is older than he realizes. Hearing loss doesn’t have the stigma that it once did. Particularly, with younger people, it’s far less pronounced, even though you may still see it to some extent in some circles. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The social and cultural connections with hearing loss can be, to put it simply, incorrect and not beneficial. Loss of vitality and aging are oftentimes associated with loss of hearing. The fear is that you’ll lose some social standing if you disclose you have loss of hearing. They feel like they may look old and come off as less “cool”.
You might be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous issue, separated from reality. But there are some very real consequences for people who are attempting to cope with the stigma around hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Delaying treatment of hearing loss (causing needless struggling and undesirable outcomes).
- Setbacks in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Obstacles in your occupation (Maybe you were in a meeting and you missed some crucial point).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for quite a while, but at this point you probably get the idea.
Fortunately, changes are happening, and it genuinely does feel as though the stigma over loss of hearing is on its way out.
The Passing of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decrease in hearing loss stigma is taking place for several reasons. Population demographics are changing and so is our relationship with technology.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Younger People
Younger adults are dealing with hearing loss more frequently and that could very well be the leading reason for the decrease in the stigma associated with it.
34 million U.S. citizens deal with hearing loss according to most statical studies, which translates into 1 in 10 people. Most likely, loud noises from a number of modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more widespread than ever before.
There is more discussion and understanding about hearing loss as it becomes more widespread.
We’ve Become More Familiar With Technology
Maybe you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were worried they would be an obvious indication that you have a hearing issue. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids nearly entirely blend in. No one notices them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in the majority of instances are very subtle.
But often hearing aids go undetected because today, everyone has something in their ears. Everyone is used to having technology so no one is concerned if you’re wearing a helpful piece of it in your ear.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
There are other reasons why loss of hearing has an improved image lately. Recently, hearing loss has been depicted with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular society, and several prominent celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding hearing loss the more we see it in the world. Now, of course, we want to prevent 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 more people will come around to seeing a hearing specialist as this stigma goes away. This can help improve general hearing health and keep people hearing better longer.