April 29th, 2020 marked the 25th anniversary of International Noise Awareness Day (INAD). The annual campaign, first founded in 1996 by the Center of Hearing and Communication (CHC), aims to raise awareness about noise. Specifically, the impact that it can have on the health and welfare of individuals and populations globally.
Noise exposure, especially exposure to dangerous noise volumes, can result in noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). This form of hearing loss, the second most common form, is entirely preventable.
Aside from posing a risk to your hearing, noise can also affect your overall well being. Today, we’re taking a closer look at how noise can impact your health.
Before we delve into how noise can impact your health, let’s review noise and your hearing.
Noise induced hearing loss can affect individuals at any age. It can occur over a period of time, or could be the result of immediate exposure to a loud sound (such as gunfire). With appropriate hearing protection, you can prevent NIHL.
According to estimates from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), in 2017 24% of U.S. adults aged 20 to 69 showed signs of noise-induced hearing loss. That’s 1 in every 4 adults between 20 – 69 years old.
If you’d like further information on protecting your hearing, please request an appointment with the hearing specialists at Clear Wave Hearing Center.
Now that we’ve covered noise and your hearing, it’s time to take a wider look at how noise can impact your health.
(1.) Mental Health – As we covered above, NIHL can affect people of any age. Hearing loss as a result of NIHL, particularly if it has been worsening gradually, may go untreated.
When hearing loss is untreated, it can increase the risks of someone suffering poor mental health. A study, led by Dr. Chuan-Ming Li MD, PhD who works in the Division of Scientific Programs at The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) “found that prevalence of moderate to severe depression was 4.9 percent for individuals who reported excellent hearing, 7.1 percent for those with good hearing and 11.4 percent for participants who reported having a little hearing trouble or greater hearing impairment.”
The National Center for Biotechnology Information carried out another study that linked exposure to excessive noise to a 200% increased risk of anxiety and depression. The rates of depression increased steadily in line with higher noise volumes.
(2.) Health Problems – According to a report released by the European Regional Office of the World Health Organisation (WHO): “Noise is an underestimated threat that can cause a number of short- and long-term health problems, such as for example sleep disturbance, cardiovascular effects, poorer work and school performance, hearing impairment, etc.”
(3.)Healing & Immune Health – A good night’s sleep is an important time for our body to rest and heal. When loud noise disrupts our body’s ability to heal effectively, it can have an impact on our overall health.
A report published by MedPage Today and the American Heart Association highlighted the impact. The study focused on patients in hospital. Arguably, this group is most in need of a restful night’s sleep! Ringing phones, IV alarms and staff talking made up the most common sources of noise. These disturbances often caused patients’ heart rates to spike by up to 10 beats per minute.
(4.) Heart Disease – A 2014 study by the European Heart Journal looked at the “cardiovascular consequences of environmental noise.” The study found: “Acute noise exposure, in both laboratory settings where traffic noise was simulated and in real-life environments, can cause increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and cardiac output, likely mediated by the release of stress hormones such as catecholamines.”
(5.) Damage To The Vocal Cords – A noisy environment will cause us to increase the volume of our voices to be heard. Over longer periods, shouting can cause more than a scratchy, sore throat.
The Abilene Christian University published a study looking at a group that uses their voices often – teachers. The study found that up to 50% of teachers had permanent damage to their vocal cords. Other studies have documented higher levels of absences in teachers who have injured their vocal cords. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and the Gould Voice Research Center estimated the cost of teachers’ voice injuries at US$2.5 billion per year.
Using appropriate hearing protection in loud environments can help protect your hearing. Taking the steps to protect your hearing can also help protect your health.
Regular hearing assessments are the best way to identify any changes to your baseline hearing. If you suspect that noise has affected your hearing, please get in touch with the hearing specialists at Clear Wave Hearing Center. Call us on (507) 208-7002 or click here to request an appointment online.
As a company focused on care, our team at Clear Wave Hearing Center is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for our customers and staff. Together with our communities, we pledge to do everything we can to ensure you have a safe visit as we honor our mission to help people hear better.