John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he feels he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he has been avoiding seeking out a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing examination. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant harm to his hearing. Sadly, his reluctance to acknowledging that he has hearing loss has stopped him from looking for effective treatments.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his ideas are outdated. Because the stigma concerning hearing loss is becoming less common. Particularly, with the younger generation, it’s far less evident, even though you may still encounter it to some extent in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
Put simply, loss of hearing has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always necessarily helpful or true. For some, hearing loss might be seen as an indication of old age or a loss of vigor. The fear is that you’ll lose some social standing if you acknowledge you have loss of hearing. They feel like they may appear old and come off as less “cool”.
You could be tempted to think of this stigma as a rather amorphous problem, separated from reality. But there are some very real implications for individuals who are trying to cope with the stigma around hearing loss. Including these examples:
- Avoiding hearing loss management (leading to needless troubled and poor results).
- Setbacks in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Occupation setbacks (Maybe you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some important point).
- Job hunting problems (it’s unfortunate, 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.
Thankfully, this is all changing, and It seems as if the stigma of hearing loss is truly going away.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
This decline in hearing loss stigma is taking place for several reasons. Population demographics are changing as is our perception of technology.
More Younger Adults Are Being Diagnosed With Loss of Hearing
Younger adults are dealing with hearing loss more often and that could certainly be the biggest reason for the decrease in the stigma connected to it.
Most statistical studies put the number of individuals with hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which breaks down to 1 out of every 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to entering into here (loud sound from many sources seems to be the largest problem), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more common now than it ever was before.
There is more discussion and understanding about loss of hearing as it becomes more widespread.
We’re More Comfortable With Technology
Perhaps you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing problem But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids pretty much entirely blend in. No one really even sees them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in the majority of cases are very subtle.
But hearing aids also commonly go undetected because today, everyones ears seem to have something in them. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and individual) that no one even pays attention when you’ve got a small piece of practical technology yourself.
An Overdue Change in Thinking
Obviously, those two factors are not the only causes behind the reduction of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, loss of hearing has been portrayed with more consistency (and more humanity) in popular culture, and several prominent celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss stories.
The more we see hearing loss 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 determine 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 goes away, more people will feel comfortable scheduling an appointment with their hearing specialist and getting routine examinations. This will keep people hearing better and improve general hearing health.