Growing Evidence that Noise is Bad for Your Health

Growing Evidence that Noise is Bad for Your Health

In hearing aids, hearing health, Prevention by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

The world continues to get noisier and noisier! If you live in an urban area the sound of traffic, construction and neighbors can become cacophonous. If you work in a noisy setting like an airport, busy restaurant or even office setting, it can get so loud that your hearing can become damaged over time. 

There are so many sources of noise that can damage our hearing and some have become so commonplace in our daily lives that we don’t even realize how damaging the sounds have become. If this kind of exposure goes ignored it can do more than just damage our hearing. Noise can be so bad for many aspects of our health that are all interconnected.

When can noise damage your hearing?

By now, many people know the risk of operating loud machinery, going to a sporting event or a concert without hearing protection, but many people don’t understand how they may be jeopardizing their hearing health in their own home. 

When people hear the sounds of traffic and construction from the street in their homes, they tend to turn up the sounds in the house to drown it out. Even in home appliances like blenders, washing machines and dryers can cause a great deal of sound. One of these appliances running may not be a big deal but when you add a noisy air conditioner or street sounds to the equation the decibel level could rise consistently. It is not just the decibel level of a sound that can damage your hearing but the length of exposure. Any sound over 85 decibels can begin to cause hearing damage that cannot be reversed.

Health risks of hearing damage

Hearing loss is not just an issue with hearing but also a communication issue. When your daily communication becomes a constant challenge it can lead to many emotional issues. Your relationships at home and at work can start to struggle as miscommunication becomes common. Partners, family and co-workers begin to rely on you less and your sense of confidence starts to degrade. It is all too common for people with untreated hearing loss to become depressed, anxious due to communication issues and struggle with sleep.  

It can be extremely exhausting to struggle with hearing. Your brain can actually become fatigued. Many choose to self-isolate rather than struggle to communicate. This is particularly dangerous for people as they age but can have negative health risks for anyone. Lack of socialization can cause people to use parts of their brain less adding to brain atrophy. For seniors, studies have shown that cases of untreated hearing loss have led to a higher risk of dementia and memory issues. 

When people struggle to hear they are often less aware of the space around them. Warning sounds like alarms and fast approaching sounds are often harder to detect opening up more opportunities for accidents, falls and hospitalizations. Research from Johns Hopkins University found that even mild hearing loss can increase the risk of falling by three times.  As hearing loss becomes more sever that risk quickly rises.

Be in control of noise exposure in your life

When we understand the risks that hearing loss poses to our health and quality of life it illuminates how important it is to protect your hearing at all costs. One of the first things you can do to protect your hearing is to be aware of the amount of sound you expose yourself to on a daily basis. You can use a Smartphone to monitor the average sound levels in places you frequent like work, home and on your commute to see what your risk level is. If there is any place that is louder than 85 decibels it is a good idea to wear ear protection in these places at all times.

Treating hearing loss

Most hearing loss is permanent and very dangerous for your physical and emotional health. While it cannot be reversed, it can often be treated using hearing aids. These electronic devices amplify the specific sounds you struggle with so you can hear the people in your life and be more aware of your environment. If you suspect you could benefit from hearing aids then don’t put it off. The sooner you deal with hearing loss, then you have a chance to prevent a myriad of dangerous mental, emotional and physical health risks.