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Noise ~ you just can’t get away from it.

Published June 6th, 2014 in Brain Body Connection

by Tammera J. Karr, PhD
© 2014 Holistic Nutrition for the Whole you

Have you ever stopped to really think about the noise in your life? We routinely grump about the new or louder noises coming from our refrigerator, freezer or air filters. But I really didn’t get Noise pollution till spending a week in Washington DC. There isn’t any place to get away from the constant sounds and the fatigue that goes along with it.

The roar of the jet engines, squeak, squawk and rattle of the metro trains, ear piercing shrill of motorcades and eighth graders, and these were over laid with human voices (no I am not sure eighth graders are human), music, wheels on roller bags and more. For those from city’s this is the sound of life, activity and normal, however what we may not think about is the health consequences of being exposed to constant noise. It was never quiet or really dark for that matter.

For those of us who live in rural areas we might think we have it made – after all when was the last time the secret service busted our eardrums with their sirens right…. But not so fast, are you prone to having the TV on all the time, and just how loud is the volume turned up? Radio, stereo, air filters, fans, appliances, lawn mowers, chainsaws, tractors …. When was the last time the only sounds you heard were those from nature? Some can say every day, others will say the ringing in their ears is so load they can’t stand to have it quiet.

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So here is a little of the research I found on noises effects on our health – According to the World Health Organization.

“Impaired hearing may come from the workplace, community, trauma, ototoxic drugs (NSAID’s, Asprin), infection, and heredity. There is general agreement exposure to sound levels less than 70 dB does not produce hearing damage, regardless of the duration of exposure.

There is also general agreement exposure for more than 8 hours to sound levels in excess of 85 dB is potentially hazardous; to place this in context, 85 dB is roughly equivalent to the noise of heavy truck traffic on a busy road.

Studies suggest children seem to be more vulnerable than adults to noise induced hearing Image from impairment.

Noise induced hearing impairment may be accompanied by abnormal loudness perception (I can personally attest to this after having an eighth grade girl turn and puncture my eardrum with her voice at the Air and Space museum. Hahah), distortion, and tinnitus. Tinnitus may be temporary or may become permanent after prolonged exposure. The eventual results of hearing losses are loneliness, depression, impaired speech discrimination, impaired school and job performance, limited job opportunities, and a sense of isolation.

In 2001, it was estimated that 12.5% of American children between the ages of 6 to 19 years had impaired hearing in one or both ears. (I’m sure these numbers have increased considering the volume of Iproducts available today verses 2001.) As many as 80% of elementary school children use personal music players, many for extended periods of time and at potentially dangerous volume settings. The British Medical Journal reported; “In children, chronic aircraft noise exposure impairs reading comprehension and long-term memory and may be associated with raised blood pressure. ”

In the young, hearing loss affects communication, cognition, behavior, social-emotional development, academic outcomes, and later vocational opportunities. These effects have been well documented in a number of large scale investigations in children. ”

Research also shows the effects of noise pollution on adults, with elevations in stress hormones, increasing the risk of heart attack, changes in blood sugars, elevations in blood pressure, anxiety, irritability, depression, isolation, memory loss, cognition and insomnia.

The increase in cancer risk and some even postulate dementia’s are also being investigated in Europe. So just how load is your life and what can you do about it?

If you don’t need it turn it off, if you’re not watching or listening truly to it turn it off, use quality ear plugs rated appropriately for the noise, don’t play the TV while sleeping, and pull those ear buds from your kids ears, check the volume and make sure they are not damaging their hearing needlessly. After all once it is gone you can’t get it back.

Oh and teach them to look before yelling at their brother or sister to quit being stupid in public places. hahaha

To your good health and quiet.