Hearing loss is frequently seen as just a part of growing old, much like needing reading glasses. However, hearing loss is a growing concern for young adults as well. The habit of listening to loud music through headphones is sometimes blamed for this rising concern.
Hearing loss is caused by many things, such as genetics and excess ear wax. But it's also caused by long or regular exposure to loud sounds. Over time, loud sounds can damage the small hairs inside your ear that detect sound. Once a particular hair is gone, it cannot be replaced or regrown. After you lose enough hairs, you start to lose hearing.
You might not think very much about your hearing, but what you do in your daily life can damage your hearing. Attending loud music festivals, bars, clubs, and sports events can kill the hairs that help you hear. Even blow drying your hair everyday can hurt your hearing.
But a major concern with young adults and teens is the use of headphones. Many MP3 and other music players allow volumes that are above safe levels. The frequent use of inner-ear headphones at loud volumes can rapidly damage your hearing, even after only a few minutes.
Listening to loud music at work through your inner-ear headphones is like putting a rock band right next to your ear drum. Doing that every day, all day, isn't going to end well for your hearing.
The Future of Wearable Technology
However, just as new technology is hurting your ears, advances in hearing aid devices and wearable technology can help you recover some of your hearing.
Hearing aids started out as large and bulky beeper-like devices. After time, they got smaller, and used more complicated programming. Better programming allows you hear your friend's whisper instead of the car driving by. Now there are hearing aids that can be wirelessly programmed that fit entirely within your ear canal.
This advance in technology will help the rising tide of young people with hearing issues. Imagine having a hearing aid you can wirelessly adjust with your smartwatch or phone. The rising tide of smart watches and other wearable technology may make hearing aids more accurate and less fallible.
But even with the rapid pace of technological advancement in hearing aid devices, prevention is still the best strategy. Even the most advanced hearing aid cannot replace your natural hearing. Opt for over-the-ear versions of headphones, and limit how long you wear them. Wear earplugs when attending concerts or clubs. And of course, turn the volume down whenever possible. Your ears will thank you for it.