John’s having trouble at work because he can’t always hear conversations. But he thinks it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. Besides, he believes he’s too young for hearing aids, so he has been procrastinating on seeking out a hearing specialist, and hasn’t gone for a hearing test. But in the meantime, he’s been doing significant damage to his ears by turning up the volume on his earbuds. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging he has hearing loss has prevented him from looking for effective solutions.
But John’s attitude is more outdated than he recognizes. Because the stigma concerning hearing loss is becoming less common. Particularly, with the younger generation, it’s far less pronounced, even though you may still encounter it to some degree in some circles. (Isn’t that ironic?)
What Are The Problems With Hearing Loss Stigma?
The cultural and social associations with loss of hearing can be, to put it simply, untrue and not helpful. For some people, loss of hearing might be seen as an indication of aging or a loss of vigor. The fear is that you’ll lose some social status if you admit you have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you look older or not as “cool”.
You could be tempted to consider this stigma as somewhat of an amorphous issue, separated from reality. But for individuals who are trying to deal with hearing loss there are some very genuine repercussions. Including these examples:
- Job setbacks (possibly you didn’t hear 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 of on hearing loss treatment (causing needless suffering and poor outcomes).
- Difficulty finding employment (it’s unfortunate, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).
This list could go on for quite a while, but you probably get the idea.
Thankfully, changes are occurring, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is truly disappearing.
The Reasons For The Decrease of Hearing Loss Stigma
There are a number of significant reasons why hearing loss stigma is on the decline. Our connection to technology coupled with demographic transformations in our population have begun to change how we feel about devices like hearing aids.
Hearing Loss is More Widespread in Younger People
Perhaps the primary 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 talking mostly about young adults not children).
Most statistical studies report the number of individuals with hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many factors that cause this for us to get into here (noise from multiple sources appears to be the primary factor), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more prevalent now than it ever was 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 resisted your first set 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 virtually blend entirely in. No one notices them. Under most circumstances, newer hearing aids are small and discrete.
But hearing aids also commonly go unobserved because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and personal) that no one even pays attention when you have a small piece of useful technology yourself.
A Shift in Thinking Long Overdue
Obviously, those two reasons are not the only causes behind the reduction of hearing loss stigma. In recent years, hearing loss has been depicted with more clarity (and more humanity) in popular society, and several notable celebrities have come forward with their own hearing loss truths.
The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Now, of course, we want to prevent loss of hearing in every way that’s possible. If we could find a way to reverse trends in youth hearing loss as we challenge hearing loss stigma that would be optimal.
But at least as the stigma ends, more people will feel secure scheduling an appointment with their professionals and getting normal screenings. This will keep everyone hearing better and improve general hearing health.