Nowadays People With Hearing Loss Don’t Feel as Stigmatized

Man in denial about his hearing loss struggling to hear on the phone.

John’s been experiencing difficulty hearing at work. He’s in denial and keeps telling himself that everyone is speaking unclearly. What’s more, he believes 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 exam. Unfortunately, he’s been pumping up the volume on his earbuds in the meantime and doing considerable harm to his ears. Sadly, his resistance to acknowledging that he has hearing loss has prevented him from getting practical treatments.

But John’s outlook is more outdated than he realizes. Loss of hearing doesn’t have the stigma that it once did. Particularly, with younger people, it’s much less pronounced, even though you may still encounter it to some degree in some circles. (Ironic isn’t it?)

How is Hearing Loss Stigma Harmful?

Simply put, hearing loss has some social and cultural associations that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. For some people, loss of hearing may be regarded as an indication of old age or a loss of vigor. The worry is that you’ll lose some social standing if you admit you have loss of hearing. Some may think that hearing aids make you seem old or not as “cool”.

This problem might be thought of as unimportant and not connected to reality. But for individuals who are trying to deal with loss of hearing there are some very real repercussions. Including these examples:

  • Relationship challenges (that isn’t just selective hearing…you really didn’t hear what was said).
  • Putting off management of loss of hearing (resulting in less than ideal results or unnecessary struggling).
  • Setbacks in your job (Maybe you were attending a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some essential point).
  • Difficulty finding employment (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 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.

The Reasons For The Decline of Hearing Loss Stigma

This decrease in hearing loss stigma is taking place for a number of reasons. Population demographics are transforming and so is our relationship with technology.

Hearing Loss is More Prevalent 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 speaking largely of young adults not children).

Most statistical research report the number of people who dealing with hearing loss in the U.S. about 34 million, which translates into 1 out of every 10 people. In all likelihood, loud sounds from a number of modern sources are the leading reason why this hearing loss is more common than ever before.

As loss of hearing becomes more common, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and false information surrounding hearing issues.

We’re More Comfortable With Technology

Possibly you resisted your first pair of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be an obvious indication that you have a hearing issue. But these days, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids almost entirely blend in. No one notices them. This is also, partly, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in the majority of instances are very subtle.

But hearing aids also often go unnoticed because these days, everyone has some technology in their ears. Everyone is used to dealing with technology so no one cares if you have a helpful piece of it in your ear.

A Shift in Thinking Long Past Due

Naturally, those two reasons are not the only causes behind the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is commonly understood about hearing loss and there are even famous people that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.

The more we observe hearing loss in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do all we can to prevent hearing loss. 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 specialist as this stigma goes away. This will keep people hearing better and improve overall hearing health.