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Why are People Ashamed of Hearing Loss?

Why are People Ashamed of Hearing Loss?


Terri Ellert, HIS

Terri has been in practice as a Board-Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist for the past 11 years and is a co-founder of the Hearing Centers of Arizona.
Terri Ellert, HIS

Latest posts by Terri Ellert, HIS (see all)

Take a moment to consider the last time you interacted with someone who has untreated hearing loss. Do you remember how that interaction went? It is possible that you were faced with a person who had made peace with a lack of ability, kindly and calmly asking you to repeat yourself, speak up, or look in their direction to enable lip reading. However, many people can recall an opposite experience.

When some people with hearing loss are faced with the limitations of their abilities, they can react with frustration, anger, or shame. You might have been bewildered at the negativity of that interaction, even when you were trying to make the process as simple as possible for the person with hearing loss. Despite your efforts, that person might have reacted with frustration and disdain.

Why are people ashamed of hearing loss? If you do not have hearing loss, it might seem strange and confusing to you when you had that negative interaction. Let’s take a moment to consider the many difficulties posed by hearing loss, as well as the counteracting benefits that treatment can bring about.

The Reality of Hearing Loss

A person with untreated hearing loss enters a gauntlet of challenges with nearly every social interaction that comes about. Although some people are willing to raise the volume of their voices, look in the direction of the person with hearing loss, and repeat phrases that were misunderstood, others might become frustrated. A busy grocery teller might be too rude to perform these simple operations. Young children can be cruel without even realizing they are hurting others’ feelings, even making fun of an elderly person who has trouble hearing. Conversations on the phone might be cut short in order to relieve the strained conversation, but a caller with hearing loss might not get all the necessary information in time. These forms of social stigma on hearing loss are pervasive and call fill the days of a person with untreated hearing loss. Simply moving through the world can be an incredible challenge, only made worse by the inconsiderate attitudes of some people in these interactions.

The Response to Hearing Loss

Those with untreated hearing loss can respond to these negative conditions in a number of ways. One of the most common responses is to pretend as if hearing loss is not a problem at all. By ignoring others or filling in the gaps in communication with random thoughts, a person with hearing loss can act as if there is no problem at all. Another possible response is to react with anger or frustration at the person who is speaking. Particularly those with quiet voices, including children, can become the target of anger when hearing loss is in the conversation. However, another quite common response to hearing loss can be shame. Although it is no fault of the person who experiences hearing loss, some feel acute shame at the inability to hear others, taking the blame on themselves for something they are not able to control.

The Remedy for Hearing Loss

The good news is that the story does not need to end at the point of shame, anger, and denial. Solutions are available to improve hearing and restore the ability to communicate once again. Hearing aids are remarkably equipped to identify the voices of others and to amplify those sounds while leaving background noise at a lower level. Imagine how helpful it would be to have a way to raise the volume on important sounds while leaving the others alone. Not only are remedies like these useful for the practical concerns of conversation, they can also solve issues of shame, anger, and denial, restoring ease and comfort to relationships that may have become strained. Although hearing loss can form an invisible barrier between loved ones and families, hearing aids can bring back a sense of closeness in those very relationships. Why not take the opportunity to suggest that your loved one consult with a hearing specialist and have a hearing test. If you know of someone who might experience the shame surrounding hearing loss, you can be the one to restore peace of mind through this generous offering of hearing assistance.

 Hearing Centers of Arizona

Are you struggling with hearing loss? At Hearing Centers of Arizona, we’re here to help! Contact us today to schedule a hearing test and to get on the path to better hearing.

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