How Noise Levels Affect Your Long-Term Health
Authored by Alexia Ellis
If you live in an urban area, chances are you barely even hear the hum of the car engines outside your window, and are rarely interrupted by the sounds of an airplane passing overhead. This background noise is just part of the reality you’ve become accustomed to, and you might even be part of the few who actually enjoy the bustling sounds of the city. However, the honking cars and shrieking sirens still contribute to noise pollution, which can cause significant damage for those constantly exposed to it. Here, we will look at some of the more serious effects of noise on your long-term health.
Dr. Daniel Fink recently discussed the general acceptance of noise-induced hearing loss in society, and why people usually don’t do much to prevent it. He argues that hearing loss is not a normal part of aging, contrary to popular opinion, as it is overwhelmingly noise and not age that causes hearing loss.
It’s bad enough if you’re a victim of annoying traffic sounds on a regular basis, and a groundbreaking study on NYC’s restaurants and bars reveals that even just dining out can seriously endanger your hearing. Things are even worse for the 30 million workers across the United States who are constantly exposed to hazardous sound levels in their working environment. This includes those who work in construction, agriculture, manufacturing, the military, and many other industries. By the time these people retire, they may finally notice the detrimental effects of the excessive sound levels they endured – but it will be too late. Hearing loss is irreversible since the hair cells in the ear do not regrow after they’ve been damaged.
It may seem obvious that noise is stressful, but the magnitude of the stress it causes runs deeper than you think. A report from the Federal Environmental Agency reveals that noise pollution affects you even while you sleep, with even low sound levels triggering the release of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. This stress also affects children, who have increased levels of adrenaline when exposed to noise.
While the short-term effects of stress (like poor concentration and a bad mood) are inconvenient, the long-term effects are more disturbing. The American Psychological Association confirms that prolonged stress can result in chronic musculoskeletal pain — such as severe migraines and back pain. Stressors can also make existing breathing problems, like asthma, much worse. Lastly, chronic stress can contribute to more serious physical problems for the heart and blood vessels, which then increase the risk of hypertension, heart attack, or strokes. Unfortunately, the cardiovascular risks don’t end there.
The American College of Cardiology highlights the cardiovascular risks of noise pollution, listing coronary artery disease and arterial hypertension as some of the possible effects. This is an especially crucial point to consider, as Maryville University predicts that nearly half of the population will suffer from one chronic illness or another by 2025. This means that most of the population is at risk from widespread factors like noise, and they may not even be aware of it.
Furthermore, researchers from the Mainz University Medical Center have found that excessive noise can throw your heart out of rhythm, which is as bad as it sounds. The medical term for it is atrial fibrillation, and it can lead to all sorts of complications, including blood clots, strokes, and heart failure.
All in all, the long-term effects of noise are real, irreversible, and, for those who live in a loud city, difficult to avoid. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate these factors. You can use specially made earbuds that won’t damage your hearing, or use the SoundPrint app to find quieter places and help others through rating places you’ve been to. You can use this information to avoid loud places, or if you can’t, politely ask the manager to turn down the volume. Ultimately, just being mindful about how much noise you are exposed to and trying to do something about it can already make a world of difference to your health.
Article solely for the use of SoundPrint