03 January 2012

No reason to hide or be ashamed of your hearing loss

Hearing loss is a very common condition that affects people of all ages.

Many people with hearing loss choose to keep their problems to themselves. A study carried out by members of Action on Hearing Loss (formerly known as RNID), an UK organization for the hard of hearing, shows that many hearing impaired people are not open about their hearing loss. Just under half of the respondents have told their colleagues about their hearing loss and even fewer, 37%, have chosen to tell their employer.

A survey carried out by Hear-it AISBL shows that only 39% are open about their hearing loss when it comes to colleagues and acquaintances. 20% of those who participated in the survey said that they try to keep it to themselves and more than 16% said “I keep it to myself”. The Hear-it AISBL survey also showed, that 43% are a little embarrassed about their hearing loss and 28% are very embarrassed. Only 28% are not embarrassed about their hearing loss.

One of the reasons that people keep their hearing loss to themselves may be the stigma of hearing loss. Hearing loss is still perceived as an old people's affliction, even though data from around the world say something else. Hearing-impaired people are also subject to other prejudice and misconceptions. They are "less intelligent" or "mentally ill", or "they only hear what they want to hear".

But there is nothing to hide and be ashamed of. Hearing loss is a very common condition and does not only affect old people.

The largest European study ever carried out concerning hearing and hearing loss, which involved 45,000 participants, shows that one in eight believes that they have a hearing loss.

The study also shows that two out of three hearing impaired Europeans do not use hearing aids, even though the study also shows that they could benefit from using them.

In the US, 35 million suffer from hearing loss, but more than 25 million of them do not have a hearing aid.

A study by University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison USA has found that, among the participants, hearing loss affected 6% of those between the ages of 35 and 44, nearly 11% of adults aged 45 to 54, and more than 25% of adults aged 55 to 64. Among those 65 and older, the prevalence is 40%.

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