When you were 16 and turned up the radio to full volume, you weren’t thinking about how this might damage your health. You simply enjoyed the music.
You had fun when you were growing up, going to the movies and loud concerts. It may even be normal for you to have experienced loud noise at work. Long term health concerns were the furthest thing from your mind.
You probably know differently today. Noise-induced hearing loss can show up in kids as young as 12. But sound is so powerful it can even be used as a weapon.
Can Sound Make You Ill?
In a word, yes. Certain sounds can evidently cause you to get sick according to scientists and doctors. Here’s the reason why.
How Loud Sound Impacts Health
Really loud sounds damage the inner ear. You have little hairs that pick up +
vibrations after they pass through the eardrum membrane. These hairs never regenerate once they are damaged. This is what causes the sensorineural hearing loss that many people deal with as they age.
Over 85 dB of volume for an 8 hour period will start to cause permanent damage. It only takes 15 minutes for permanent damage to set in at 100 dB. At 120 dB, the volume of a rock concert, immediate, long-term impairment will occur.
Noises can also affect cardiovascular health. Obesity, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and other vascular concerns can be the consequence of increased stress hormones brought on by overly loud noise. This might explain the memory and headache issues that individuals subjected to loud noise complain about. Cardiovascular health is directly related to these symptoms.
As a matter of fact, one study showed that sound volumes that begin to affect the heart, and hormones are as low a 45 decibels. That’s around the volume of a person with a quiet inside voice.
How Sound Frequency Affects Health
A few years ago, diplomats in Cuba got sick when exposed to sounds. This sound wasn’t at a really high volume. It could even be drowned out by a television. So how could this type of sound make people sick?
Frequency is the answer.
High frequency sounds like the one experienced in Cuba can do significant harm at lower volumes.
Have you ever cringed when somebody scratched their nails on a chalkboard? Have you been driven nuts by somebody continuously dragging their finger across a folded piece of paper? Does the shrill sound of a violin put you on edge?
If you’ve felt the energy of high-pitched sounds, the pain you felt was in fact damage happening to your hearing. The damage could have become permanent if you’ve exposed yourself to this sort of sound repeatedly for longer periods of time.
Research has also discovered that you don’t even have to be able to hear the sound. Damaging frequencies can come from lots of common devices like machinery, trains, sensors, etc.
Very low-frequency sound called “infrasound” can also impact your health. The vibrations can make you feel disoriented and physically ill. Some even get flashes of light and color that are typical in migraine sufferers.
Safeguarding Your Hearing
Be aware of how you feel about specific sounds. If you’re feeling pain or other symptoms when you’re exposed to certain sounds, reduce your exposure. If you’re feeling pain in your ears, you’re most likely doing damage.
In order to understand how your hearing might be changing over time, get in touch with a hearing specialist for a hearing test.