Breaking the Stigma: Misconceptions About Hearing Loss
Fifty million Americans suffer from hearing loss, including 1 in 5 teens and 60% of returning veterans. In fact, the number of people who suffer from hearing loss is greater than those with diabetes, Alzheimer’s, autism and osteoporosis combined.
Studies have shown that hearing loss – gone unchecked – can result in isolation, depression, and early onset dementia. Despite these numbers and statistics, it still takes the average person seven years to act on their hearing impairment! Why is this? Partially due to denial, but largely due to the stigma surrounding hearing loss.
Even today, people with hearing loss are subject to prejudices and misconceptions. One study found that 60% of deaf or hearing impaired people feel that people with normal hearing think they are stupid. To help raise awareness, we collected 7 debunked common misconceptions, and 6 ways you can help erase hearing loss stigma.
7 common misconceptions about hearing loss
Misconception #1: Hearing aids don’t work and don’t help.
The truth: Modern hearing aids are sophisticated electronic instruments, adapted individually by audiologists. Hearing aids almost always result in better hearing and better quality of life.
Misconception #2: False: Hearing aids are big and unsightly.
The truth: These days, most hearing aids are small, discreet and well-disguised.
Misconception #3: Hearing aids are uncomfortable to wear.
The truth: It may take time to become comfortable with your new hearing technology, but when you become accustomed to your new hearing ability, your overall comfort is actually improved.
Misconception #4: Most hearing impaired people are old; it's part of the aging process.
The truth: Nearly half of all hearing impaired people are in their working age or younger. Only about 35% of those affected by hearing loss are over age 64.
Misconception #5: It's not a big deal if hearing loss is just in one ear.
The truth: We hear best when both ears work together. When hearing in one ear is compromised, you can lose not only amplification, but clarity.
Misconception #6: Hearing impaired people hear what they want to hear.
The truth: Hearing impairment is not equal to selective hearing. One’s ability to hear depends on the degree and type of hearing loss they have, in addition to their surroundings.
Misconception #7: Dealing with hearing loss is better than having to wear hearing aids.
The truth: Just like correcting your vision with prescription lenses, addressing hearing loss with hearing aids, is nothing to be ashamed about. As mentioned above, most of today's hearing aids are sleek and capable, and significantly improve your quality of life.
6 ways you can help break the stigma
- Get your hearing tested as part of your annual medical screening, and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
- If you have hearing loss, treat it. Visit an audiologist to learn more about hearing aids, or talk to your general practitioner.
- If you have hearing aids, wear them. It takes time to perfect the settings, but the upside is immeasurable.
- Speak up about your hearing loss. Being vocal about your own loss will help lower the stigma for others.
- Show that hearing is something to be valued. Protect your hearing and help others protect theirs by offering earplugs or turning down the volume.
- Appeal to your elected officials to make hearing loss an important part of the national health agenda.