Noise and non-hearing health
  • Jun 18, 2023

Noise and non-hearing health

A report from the UK reveals the non-hearing health issues caused by our increasingly noisy environments.

If you haven't been feeling yourself recently you might want to turn down the volume in your everyday life.

Our daily soundtrack of sounds like planes, buses and construction could be contributing to increased levels of cardiovascular risk, and hypertension. UK scientists have discovered an interesting link between loud sounds and non-hearing health issues. It backs up a warning from the World Health Organization (WHO) that noise pollution is the second greatest risk to our health after air pollution.

Daily Noise - Health Effects

Professor David McAlpine says our health will continue to be impacted by the noisy world around us-:

"Our problem is we don't have ear lids. We've got no way of actually switching off the sound we have. And our listening brains are always awake even when we're asleep. And that's the real problem. We're always alerted to sounds and as our noisy will get noisier that's impacting on our health. We developed, we evolved that way. We need to know the Saber Toothed Tiger creeping up on us we need to know the sound of the barbarians at the gate. We need to know when we're asleep that the baby's crying at two in the morning. So it's a natural stress response that gets us alert, gets our our juices flowing, if you like, our adrenaline, our heart rate and that goes up. But if that's happening 12 times a night abecause they're building next door or they're on the traffic and infrastructure programs. That's when it becomes a problem.


Well, if we think about our stress response, as I said, there are those hormones the adrenaline, etc. that gets us going and that's a good thing. If we need it. We need to be alert. But what happens as any stressor, so whether it's cigarette smoking, too much alcohol, diet, not enough exercise, there's pressure put on your blood vessels and that increased stress that you get from the sound is actually having the same effect. It's tightening your arteries, it's making your heart work harder, and you get the heart attacks or stroke, things like that. They're essentially associated with that stress response. So that's a really important point because we do think about hearing health a lot and particularly in Australia where it's big issue and it's well known. There are non-hearing health things related to the level of sound or the intensity of sound.

And there are two issues-:

1 One when you have about 60 decibels of sound, which is about conversational level, if you have a decibel over that every decibel over that is a 1% increase in heart attacks and other cardiac incidents because you simply can't adapt that out.

2 And the other issue is that if someone says oh, the average sound level in your house is 50 decibels, that's okay between 10 and six in the morning, but it's spiking between 40 and 60 decibels because the jackhammer goes on 10 times a night and you've going off 10 times a night as well.

The regulations related to noise

Noise at work regulations are there and they have been there for a while. Noise at play regulations don't exist. So you're already damaging your hearing when you go to a nightclub and we know that's a big problem but it's that bleed through into the rest of our lives as we increase the density of our cities. We're bleeding through sound into other people's lives that really they can't get rid of."

Noise Progress Or Pollution

Source: ABC News June 18 2023
David Mc Alpine Professor Academic Director of Macquarie Univeristy Hearing, Department of Linguistics


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