Hearing loss may be terrifying and depressing. Unfortunately, the social stigmas connected with the illness make matters worse. Some people are frightened of how others would view and treat them if they seek treatment to improve their hearing. Unfortunately, this can lead to people struggling with hearing loss when therapy might benefit them much. The stigma associated with hearing loss can be a significant barrier for those who require assistance in improving their hearing. Some people are hesitant to take the next step because they are concerned about how their friends, family, or acquaintances will see them. The Social stigma with hearing loss has long been associated with negative preconceptions and biases, and it astounds me how many people still link such beliefs with hearing loss.
Hearing Loss can occur with a social stigma
Hearing is a vital sense for a person’s development of speech, which is necessary for verbal communication and personality development. Deafness is similar to any other human disability, such as blindness, orthopaedic issues, or any other physical barrier. As a result, it should not be regarded as a social stigma and should be handled equally to physical challenges. The government has a social obligation to do all possible to regulate and prevent deafness, as well as to provide similar services to people with any disability.
Hearing health concerns were underappreciated. Many individuals connected the ailment with advanced age. To put it another way, everyone who had trouble hearing had to be elderly and past their prime. Many individuals, understandably, are afraid to confront the subject since becoming old may be unpleasant.
Low cognition or intellectual impairments are also occasionally linked to the disease. Furthermore, some individuals feel that hearing loss signifies social clumsiness or a lack of communication abilities. In summary, many persons with hearing loss fear that others will see them negatively as a result of their disability.
Causes of the Stigma
- The stigma mainly comes from outmoded perceptions of hearing health. However, this is not the only reason why using a hearing aid is frowned upon.
- Reduced hearing is seen as unusual, which contributes to the problem. Humans have an inherent need to belong to a group, which may often lead to bad treatment of others. Fortunately, increasing awareness is assisting in the reduction of this problem.
- The basic result is that, while the source of stigma may vary, the stigma itself is mainly responsible for delaying treatment. So, what is the answer? Educating the general population, as well as people with hearing loss, about the difficulties they encounter and the substantial advantages of hearing loss treatment, may help to counteract negative thinking and foster empathy.
- Self-stigma arises when the individual with the stigmatizing characteristic has the same ideas about the trait as outsiders, whether consciously or unconsciously. This is very dangerous to one’s identity. Self-stigma is much more harmful to the individual who has the stigmatizing characteristic since it makes removing the stigma much more difficult. People with hearing loss who are stigmatized exhibit maladaptive behaviours such as denying the reality of their hearing loss or avoiding settings where communication could break down.
Risks of This Social Stigma
You might be shocked to find that one out of every five Americans suffers from hearing loss. Those are only the cases that have been recorded; the true number is likely far greater. People feel embarrassed by their hearing loss and are unwilling to seek treatment. This might result in a lot of stress as well as a lower quality of life. Hearing is crucial to our ability to interact and socialize.
Certain hearing problems might deteriorate if left untreated. Getting competent treatment from a doctor early, like with other medical issues, can substantially improve the prognosis. The social stigma associated with hearing loss has significant consequences.
Although hearing loss affects about 15% of all adults in the United States, many people are still stigmatized. People who are ashamed of their hearing loss may refuse to admit it, causing the therapy to be disrupted.
Even after seeing a doctor, some people refuse to get hearing aids because they do not want to appear elderly. Some people consider these medical gadgets to be a sign of weakness or disability. Failure to seek therapy, however, can have long-term repercussions such as social disengagement, behavioral changes, neurological problems, depression, or even dementia.
Factors that are Changing the Stigma
Hearing loss leads to mental and behavioral imbalances, which leads to stigma. The stigma, whether societal or personal, has a significant impact on hearing aid adoption. It is vital to address stigma to provide proper hearing aids to patients. Hearing impairment or hearing loss refers to a reduction in one’s capacity to hear. Conductive, mixed, and sensorineural are the three basic categories. The severity of the hearing loss is determined by the degree of hearing loss. Mild hearing loss, moderate, severe, and profound hearing loss can all influence a person. Mild hearing loss is normally accepted, but when it comes to significant hearing loss, strict safeguards must be taken.
The primary level of stigma is societal stigma, which progresses to self-stigma. This social stigma, combined with self-stigma, makes it more difficult for a person to receive effective treatment and services for a problem. Negative beliefs about a specific group, hatred, rage, and prejudice are examples of social stigma, whereas self-stigma occurs when social stigma produces a bad component in a person about themselves, leading to the belief that they are inferior to others and negative feelings. The stigma associated with wearing hearing aids is a significant barrier to overcome. If this is the case, then suitable program creation is required to aid the hearing.
Hearing-impaired people and their families should seek improved rehabilitation programs for effective hearing aid provision so that their quality of life improves.
Fortunately, the societal stigma associated with hearing loss is gradually dissipating. There are a few trends that are assisting in this change.
To begin with, everyone beginning to have a better understanding of hearing as a culture. People can now screen and test for hearing issues more precisely because of increased research and new technologies. Patients do not necessarily have to admit to themselves that they have a problem before they may be helped. Patients do not necessarily have to overcome the obstacle of seeking treatment on their own because of improved screening and detection.
Second, technological improvements have made it possible to diagnose hearing abnormalities in newborns and young children. Whereas hearing aids were formerly only worn by the elderly, it is today normal to see a small child using one. This is assisting in the removal of the age-related stigma associated with hearing aids.
Finally, hearing health education and awareness are improving. Hearing tests are given to students at school regularly, and they are taught about the causes of hearing loss. People are less stigmatized about requiring a hearing aid or other therapy when they have a better understanding of the illness
How to overcome?
- Enabling the old stigma of hearing loss to affect a person’s willingness to accept treatment can be highly harmful to that individual. Hearing loss is a hidden disability that people strive to hide from others. Individuals with hidden hearing loss may become progressively distant from social engagement with friends and family. It might also put them on the road to depression.
- Unless they address their hearing loss by seeking treatment, most people with hearing loss will feel alone and lonely. The truth is that once someone has a hearing loss and begins to use hearing aids, they not only realize how much they have been losing out on, but they also notice how many other people do as well.
- If you are bothered by the stigma of hearing loss, try to keep track of how it affects you at home, at work, and in your spare time. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of hearing better vs losing out on the conversation. Identify and resolve the major emotion that prevents you from seeking help. Because of the goal for invisibility, hearing aids continue to decrease in size.
- Despite the progress achieved in eliminating the social stigma associated with hearing loss, there is still much more to be done. Take a minute to examine the benefits and drawbacks of obtaining treatment on a personal level. If you list them out, the advantages of hearing better and being more involved in discussions are likely to outweigh the disadvantages.
- Addressing the emotions that are preventing you from receiving therapy might also be beneficial. When you examine them attentively, they may appear to be less serious.
- Involvement in organizations such as the Hearing Loss Association, local organizations can also be beneficial. It is simpler to deal with this difficulty if you have the support of people who have had similar situations.
- Participating also provides a chance to confront the stigma on a larger scale. Many of these organizations advocate for the issues of persons who have hearing loss. Combating this unpleasant societal stigma is one of them.
These stigmas contribute to a low level of social usage of hearing aids, a conviction that they are ineffective in certain contexts, a dread of wearing them, cosmetic concerns, and annoyance. It has been observed that peer bias creates self-stigma, causing patients to delay obtaining rehabilitation treatment. Adults who develop a variety of health problems face a variety of stigmas.