Noise pollution effects: what do you think it does to humans?

Noise pollution effects: what do you think it does to humans?
© iStock/LeslieLauren

In a nutshell, any sound that disturbs your peace is noise, regardless of whether or not you are used to it – But have we ever stopped to think about noise pollution effects on humans?

Noise pollution effects many things and is everywhere nowadays. Loud music in churches, vehicles on the road, airplanes flying above homes, construction machines in the neighbourhood, and industries in urban areas. That’s without mentioning the many sources of noise within your home including the TV, blending machine, washing machine, lawn mower, etc.

Now that we have mentioned it, is getting used to noise a ‘thing’, really? If you would take a stroll in the woods all by yourself and experience the tranquility therein, you would certainly realise that the noise you ‘got used to’ has been denying you lots of peace.

Besides jeopardising your peace, does noise pollution affect you in other ways? According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, noises that exceed 80 decibels are detrimental to your health. Children are affected by noises above 60 decibels. The Decibel is the unit of measure for the intensity of sound waves and, in simple terms, any noise that dwarfs normal conversation between two people is most probably above 60 decibels.

Read more below to discover five health problems that would potentially arise from noise pollution.

Damaged brain and hearing power

High-intensity sound waves cause unnecessary ripples in the ear canal, disturbing the fluid that aid communications between the ear and the brain. This disturbance destroys the tiny, very delicate, hair follicles that send signals to the brain whenever sounds enter the ear.

Hearing loss is very probable after 50% of these hairs are gone, necessitating hearing devices, particularly for children. Research has also shown that uncontrolled exposure to high-intensity noises can seriously jeopardise a kid’s memory and reading power.

Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases

Being exposed to noise pollution for ten consecutive years or more raises your chances of suffering from at least one cardiovascular disease later in life by 300%. About a decade back, scientists from the University of Gothenburg found out that high noise levels increase an individual’s pulse rates and cause constriction of blood vessels, thus making him/her vulnerable to heart attacks or high blood pressure. Being exposed to such noises for more than 8 hours a day could even be worse.

Psychological disorders

The noises you ‘got used to’ can lead to serious psychological disorders and, sadly, you may not even realise it because it becomes a part of you. Research shows that too much noise makes people easily irritable, nervousness, irrational in decision making, and constant unease throughout the day.

In extreme cases, noises can make your life so stressful that you become socially aloof, unproductive at work due to poor concentration, and emotional instability due to reduced self-confidence. Without the help of those around you, you might end up developing an unlikeable, socially suppressive personality without knowing it.

Poor sleep

If you have ever lived in a noisy neighbourhood, you know how irregular sleep can get on a noisy night. The danger of not sleeping well at night is that your day gets boring, you get tired early, and you are forced to forego most energy-draining activities. You cannot, for example, be effective at the gym which increases cholesterol levels in your body. Poor sleeping patterns can also cause serious cardiovascular problems in the long run.

Interfering with speech

This is a no-brainer: Conversing in a noisy environment is almost impossible. Working with noisy machines, for example, affects your inter-social life and makes your days seem longer than they actually are.

If you have lost your hearing ability due to noise, it is imperative that you acquire hearing devices soonest possible. By so doing, you will be protecting your ear canals from further damage as well as getting your social vibe back. It is equally necessary for you to go slow on loud music, get noise-cancelling headphones when operating noisy machines such as the lawn mower, and to avoid staying near irritating noises for more than an hour.

Because you cannot entirely run away from the noise in the home, it is wise that you employ some protective measures to shield your ears from irritating noises. Some of these protective measures include not using loud headphones to listen to music, not using too many noisy devices at a go, installing a carpet to your floor, and buying noise-absorbing curtains for the windows that face the noise sources.

Rilind Elezaj
Guest Author

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