Hearing loss is an unpleasant affliction that requires immediate attention. But what to do if a person is afraid or ashamed of addressing their hearing weaknesses? Experience shows that many patients are in no hurry to get help, trying not to pay attention to the problem.
Of course, it doesn’t go away on its own, which only exacerbates the situation. This behavior can be the result of the so-called hearing loss stigma.
What is stigma?
First, let’s understand what stigma is. The word itself is of Greek origin and is translated as a brand or label. Today, social labels or stereotypes concerning a person or a group of people, based on some characteristic or property, characterize social stigma. For example, we have all heard the stereotype that Americans are rude. We obviously know this is simply not true. Americans are fun, well rounded people and care very much about customer care and good service; it would be ignorant to place a stereotype on one set of people without paying attention to the fact that we are all individuals.
Many Americans have some kind of social stigma that strongly affects their self-image. As a result, they change their behavior, trying to follow the wrong beliefs. This behavior often leads to the emergence of new physiological and psychological difficulties. So stigma can be a big problem in our society that is often added to the existing one. The problem cannot be simply ignored, particularly when we are speaking about hearing loss.
How does stigma affect hearing problems?
Audiology Island raised this issue for a reason. Experience shows that many of our patients have a hearing loss stigma that negatively affects decision-making. Several large studies have also shown a link between impaired self-perception, which leads to erroneous decisions, and the presence of social stigma. Let’s take a closer look at how imposed stereotypes get in the way for those individuals that need to address hearing difficulties?
Stigma around hearing loss
Many Americans believe that hearing loss is linked to aging. This however, is not necessarily the case. As a result, due to the fear of ageism, individuals will try to hide their problem in their everyday lives.
Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro notes that the hearing loss stigma has other influences as well. Some patients are sure that people will stop communicating with them if they know about their hearing loss. They may believe that people will judge not only how they look but how they think and will begin shying away from social situations. Over time, this leads to self-isolation and relationship rupture, even with close people!
Stigma and hearing aids
Unfortunately, due to stigma, people hide their problem and delay treatment. Why people don’t wear hearing aids? One of the reasons is the belief that the hearing devices needed to improve hearing are bulky and will make them look older or as if there is a disability. Someone may feel that they do not want to stand out among others. Unfortunately, this outlook can result in the many negative consequences of untreated hearing loss that we have discussed in the past.
Hearing aids are indispensable for millions of Americans with hearing problems. But despite their obvious benefits, people are slow to seek help from hearing care professionals. Hearing aids literally change a person’s life, dividing it into “before” and “after”, helping to forget about difficulties and return to a full and happy life!
What should I do?
Always have a baseline of your hearing levels. This ensures that as hearing is monitored changes can be monitored. In addition, seeking professional help will keep you in the know of when intervention is needed. Technology is changing at a very rapid speed and that also means hearing technology is included. There are so many solutions now when it comes to hearing intervention.
Every individual has different hearing needs and there is not one solution for all. Hearing impairment can occur at any age for various reasons. Once the type of loss is determined, your audiologist will sit down and go over all the results. The audiologist will also be able to show you all your options and together with you determine the best solution. It is vital to know all the latest information so that an education decision can be made on the best.
Modern medicine not only has addressed many of the “stigma” issues around the hearing aid device but research has also shown the importance of addressing loss in order to prevent further damage.
There are many brands of hearing aids. They differ not only in type, design, but also in additional functions. Therefore, a hearing care professional will select the most suitable device for you, based on the diagnostic results and your preferences. Just tell us about your lifestyle, hobbies and wishes. Most devices are now designed to easily integrate with your lifestyle, for example, streaming phone calls and music directly to your ears.
Hearing aids can make you feel healthier. They will allow you to be more intune with your significant other, family friends and overall the world around you. So don’t let your hesitation address your quality of life. If you need a hearing device, it will quickly become part of your everyday life without adding additional stigma or stress.
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]