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

John’s been experiencing trouble hearing at work. But he feels like it’s probably everyone else not speaking clearly. He believes that you should be older to use hearing aids, so he hasn’t gone in for a hearing test and has been avoiding a hearing test. But in the meantime, he’s been doing considerable damage to his ears by cranking up on his earbuds. Sadly, his reluctance to admitting he has hearing loss has stopped him from getting practical solutions.

But John’s mindset is older than he believes. Loss of hearing doesn’t carry the stigma that it once did. While in some circles, there’s still a stigma around hearing loss, it’s far less pronounced than it was in the past, especially among younger people. (Ironic isn’t it?)

How Can Hearing Loss Stigma be Harmful?

Put simply, loss of hearing has some cultural and social connections that aren’t always fundamentally true or helpful. Loss of vigor and aging are oftentimes associated with hearing loss. People are frequently worried that they may lose social standing if others recognize they have hearing loss. Some may think that hearing aids make you look old or not as “with it”.

This issue may be thought of as unimportant and not associated with reality. But there are some very real implications for people who are trying to deal with the stigma of hearing loss. Here are some examples:

  • Occupation obstacles (Perhaps you were in a meeting and you didn’t quite make out some essential information).
  • Avoiding hearing loss treatment (causing unnecessary troubled and undesirable results).
  • Relationship challenges (Your not just tuning people ot, you just can’t hear them very well).
  • Difficulty finding employment (it’s sad to say, but some people may buy into the stigmas around hearing loss even if it’s not entirely legal).

This list could continue for a while, but at this point you most likely get the point.

Fortunately, changes are occurring, and It seems like the stigma of hearing loss is really disappearing.

Why is The Stigma of Hearing Loss Declining?

This decline in hearing loss stigma is occurring for several reasons. Population demographics are transforming as is our connection to technology.

It’s Becoming More Common For Young Adults to Have Hearing Loss

Perhaps the primary reason that hearing loss stigma is vanishing is that hearing loss itself is becoming increasingly common, particularly among younger people (and we’re talking mostly about young adults not children).

Most statistical research put the number of individuals with loss of hearing in the U.S. around 34 million, which breaks down to 1 in 10 people. There are too many reasons for this for us to get into here (loud noise from several sources appears to be the largest factor), but the main point is that loss of hearing is more common now than it ever was before.

As loss of hearing becomes more widespread, it becomes easier to break down the stigmas and misinformation surrounding hearing problems.

We’re More Confident With Technology

Maybe you resisted your first set of hearing aids because you were concerned they would be a noticeable sign that you have a hearing condition. But nowadays, technology is so pervasive that hearing aids virtually blend entirely in. No one notices them. This is also, in part, because hearing aids are smaller than they ever used to be and in most situations are very discreet.

But frequently hearing aids go unobserved because these days, everyones ears seem to have technology in them. Technology itself is simply so pervasive (and personal) that no one bats an eyelash when you have a small piece of helpful technology yourself.

An Overdue Shift in Thinking

Of course, those two factors are not the only causes for the reduction of hearing loss stigma. Much more is commonly comprehended about loss of hearing and there are even celebrities that have told the public about their own hearing loss conditions.

The more we see loss of hearing in the world, the less stigma there will be. Of course, now we want to do everything we can to stop hearing loss. 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 ends, more people will feel comfortable scheduling an appointment with their hearing care specialists and getting routine exams. This will help improve overall hearing health and keep everybody hearing better longer.

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