Simple Ways To Protect Against Harm Of Noises
Are the noises you are exposed to on a daily basis causing harm to your health? You might be surprised to find that they are.
In this article, I’ll share with you the alarming discovery that many modern noises that people are exposed to are damaging to health. And I’ll share with you some simple tips you can use to protect yourself.
Shocking Discovery Blames Noises For Harm
For decades it has been known that loud noises cause hearing loss. And while hearing loss is no minor problem, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Not only that, but many noises that you might not think of as loud can also harm your health.
It started with a study of professionals who work near traffic. The researchers were surprised to find that these people experienced huge increas11es in a long list of diseases and conditions compared to the rest of the public.
The researchers accounted for all kinds of variables. But after all was accounted for, sound alone was associated with:
- 58 percent increase in depression
- 87 percent increase in hypertension
- 74 percent increase in headache
- 64 percent increase in muscle tension
- 71 percent increase in cardiovascular disease
- 48 percent increase in fatigue
- 93 percent decrease in concentration
This research made it very clear that noise exposure is a serious health concern.
The loudness of noise is what matters. Loudness is measured in decibels. Here are a few examples of loudness values to give you a sense of what’s what.
- City traffic: 85 decibels
- Motorcycle: 95 decibels
- Refrigerator: 45 decibels
- Conversation: 60 decibels
- Audio in headphones at maximum: 120 decibels
- Sirens: 120 decibels
- Chainsaw: 120 decibels
Researchers have long known that both short exposure to very loud sounds and long exposure to moderately loud sounds can be harmful to hearing. For long term exposure it’s been found that anything greater than 75 decibels long term can harm hearing.
Recent research has shown that 75 decibels is the cut off for the other harmful effects of noise as well. So, for example, sitting in a room with a humming refrigerator is unlikely to cause harm. Likewise, having conversations isn’t going to cause any harm.
However, many of the activities that many people do regularly, can harm health. That includes listening to music too loudly, walking next to city traffic, using chainsaws, and attending music concerts.
The Effects Are Serious
Research has shown that even modestly loud noises can have negative health effects long term. One study showed that 3 percent of cardiovascular deaths are caused primarily by noise exposure. And another study found that among those who are sensitive to sound, noise can increase death from cardiovascular disease by 80 percent.
Studies show that we are particularly susceptible to noise at night. So noises at night - such as traffic noises - can interfere with sleep quality. That, in turn, sets off a cascade of negative health effects.
Simple Steps To Protect Yourself
When it comes to protecting yourself, the answer is twofold: avoid and protect.
Avoiding loud sounds is the best thing you can do for your health. So, for example, when you listen to music, listen to it quietly. It needn’t be so quiet that you have to strain to hear it. But it should be no louder than a typical conversation. Preferably, don’t use headphones or ear buds since they put the sound too close to regulate well.
If you live in a place that is constantly exposed to loud noises, the best way to avoid the sounds is to move. Or if you regularly work with things that involve loud noises - such as chainsaws or drums - the best way to avoid the noises is to stop working with those things.
But obviously, it’s not always possible or desirable to avoid all loud and harmful noises. If you live in a noisy area it may not be possible to move. Or if your work involves noisy things, it may not be desirable for you to find different work.
So in that case, the next thing to do is to protect. Wearing ear protection is essential for anyone who is frequently around loud noises such as musicians, traffic construction workers, and loggers. Remember, it’s not just your hearing that is at stake. Research has shown that for every 5 decibel increase, your risk of dying from heart disease increases by 3 percent. So you want to protect your ears adequately.
Your home, and particularly your bedroom, is very important when it comes to noise protection. If you live in a noisy area such as next to a busy road or near an airport, soundproofing your bedroom is particularly important for your health. For those who can afford it, acoustic tiles and sound-reducing windows can greatly reduce the sound from outside when installed correctly.
For the poor man’s guide to sound reduction, heavy curtains and rugs can help.
Surprisingly, research has shown that many common loud noises can harm health. Therefore, for your health, it is best to avoid loud sounds when possible and to protect yourself when you are exposed to loud sounds. Do these simple things, and your body will thank you.