Why are People Ashamed of Hearing Loss?

Why are People Ashamed of Hearing Loss?

In Hearing Loss Impact, Hearing Loss Treatment by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S. has been a licensed audiologist for over 30 years. After working for many years for non-profit rehabilitation agencies and other audiology practices, she established her own practice in 1999.
Laurie Duffy, M.S.

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Due to the stigma of hearing loss, people who struggle with this condition may refrain from seeking treatment, believing that a hearing aid would make them look older or weaker. When hearing loss is left unaddressed, however, it will persist, and it may also lead to cognitive decline, social disengagement, and a variety of serious health issues. In waiting to seek treatment, or perhaps refusing to acknowledge your hearing loss altogether, you are placing both your physical and mental health at risk. Have you been letting the stigma of hearing loss hold you back?

“Hearing aids make me look old”

Many people associate hearing with aging and ageism, which is prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a person’s age. They might find it difficult to relate to their younger friends or relations or feel ostracized. In addition, perhaps because hearing loss is strongly associated with aging, people may find that their hearing aid reminds them that they’re getting older. Often people fear that wearing a hearing aid would make them appear unattractive. They worried about the technology drawing attention to their ears and emphasizing their hearing loss.

The Impact of the Stigma of Hearing Loss

Despite the prevalence of hearing loss with about 20 percent of Americans reporting some degree of hearing loss, the stigma persists. When people feel ashamed of their hearing loss, they may refuse to acknowledge it. Participants in a study, conducted by Southall, Gagne, and Jennings, experienced a great deal of stress when trying to deny or conceal their hearing loss. Both personally and professionally, they feared being labeled, and they put off visiting an audiologist.

Fight the Stigma

If you suffer from hearing loss, don’t let the stigma hold you back. Although you might feel that a hearing aid makes you appear old, in many ways it will actually assist you in retaining your youth. After all, do young people with excellent hearing health continually ask people to repeat themselves? Do they respond inappropriately in conversations because they can’t hear the other end of the conversation? Do they disconnect themselves socially because they struggle to hear?

The Benefits of Using Hearing Aids

Slower cognitive decline

Several recent studies have linked untreated hearing loss to an increased risk of developing dementia and accelerated cognitive decline. The decline appears greatest for those who do not wear hearing aids to correct hearing loss. The good news is that researchers have found that wearing hearing aids helps to decrease atrophy while increasing hearing ability.

Reduce Tinnitus Symptoms

More than 50 million people in America experience tinnitus, a high pitched ringing or clicking noise with no external sound source. And 90 percent of those who experience tinnitus also experience hearing loss. With advances in hearing aid technology, an increasing number of hearing aid manufacturers are now producing hearing aids specifically designed to alleviate tinnitus, so wearing hearing aids to correct hearing loss has an additional benefit to reduce the stress associated with tinnitus.

Improved Personal Safety

You improve your safety when you treat your hearing loss. Don’t be at greater risk of falling, which can lead to costly medical bills—let alone physical discomfort. The better you hear, the more attuned you are to your surroundings.

Emotional Well-Being

The emotional benefits of treating your hearing loss are immense. Any type of hearing loss can make you feel disconnected from your own sense of self and impacts how you think and feel about yourself. As treating hearing loss can improve your sense of wellbeing, it of course enhances your abilities and desires to connect with friends and loved ones.

Visit Us at HearCare Rhode Island

If you’ve been putting off a hearing test, you’re not alone. On average people wait nearly seven years from when they first notice a change in their hearing before they seek help. Seven years of strained relationships at home and at work, missing out on the sounds of the world around you, and risking health issues linked to untreated hearing loss.

Remember that treating hearing loss is important to your current and future health. Don’t succumb to the stigma of hearing loss and do your part to reverse the stigma by embracing hearing devices and encouraging other people you know to visit us at HearCare Rhode Island.