John’s been experiencing difficulty hearing at work. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. What’s more, he feels he’s too young to need hearing aids, so he’s been procrastinating on finding a hearing professional, and hasn’t gone for a hearing test. Unfortunately, he’s been turning up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing significant damage to his ears. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has loss of hearing has prevented him from getting practical treatments.
But what John doesn’t realize is that his viewpoints are antiquated. Because the stigma about hearing loss is becoming less prevalent. Specifically, with the younger generation, it’s much less evident, though you may still see it to some degree in some groups. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What is The Harm of Hearing Loss Stigma?
The social and cultural associations with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, untrue and not helpful. For some, hearing loss might be regarded as a sign of aging or a loss of vigor. People are often concerned that they may lose social standing if others find out they have hearing loss. They feel they might look old and come off as less “cool”.
You could be tempted to think of this stigma as a rather amorphous problem, detached from reality. But for people who are trying to cope with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Here are some examples:
- Obstacles in your occupation (possibly you missed an important sentence in a company meeting).
- Difficulties in your relationships (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
- Putting off proper care of hearing loss (leading to needless suffering and undesirable outcomes).
- Job hunting problems (it’s sad to say, but some people may be prejudiced against hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
There are several 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.
Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Decreasing?
There are various major reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Population demographics are transforming as is our perception of technology.
Hearing Loss is More Common in Youth
Possibly the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is disappearing is that hearing loss itself is becoming increasingly prevalent, especially with younger individuals (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not kids).
34 million U.S. citizens suffer from loss of hearing according to most statical studies, which translates into 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to entering into here (loud noise from many sources appears to be the primary problem), but the point is that hearing loss is more common now than it ever has been in the past.
There is more discussion and knowledge about hearing loss as it becomes more common.
We’ve Become More Accustomed to Technology
Maybe you were worried that your first pair of hearing aids would cause you to look old so you resisted wearing them. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids pretty much blend entirely in. No one really even sees them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than ever and in most circumstances are very discreet.
But hearing aids also typically go unobserved because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Technology itself is simply so prevalent (and individual) that no one even pays attention when you have a tiny piece of practical technology yourself.
An Overdue Shift in Thinking
Of course, those two factors are not the only causes behind the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is generally comprehended about hearing loss and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss situations.
There will continue to be less stigma regarding hearing loss the more we observe it in the world. Now, of course, we want to prevent loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. The ideal would be to reverse the trends in youth hearing loss while combating against hearing loss stigma.
But more people will come around to seeing a hearing professional as this stigma fades away. This will help enhance general hearing health and keep everyone hearing better longer.