Health and Lifestyle

How Can Noise Can Impact Your Health?

Posted by Admin |

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is caused by exposure to excessive sound pressure levels. The urge to cover our ears in noisy situations is a common reaction to loud sounds, but our bodies also react in many other ways. In this blog, we explore 5 ways that noise can impact your health.

  1. Mental Health. NIHL can affect individuals of any age. According to a 2011-2012 CDC study, up to 24 percent of the adult population in the United States exhibit symptoms of NIHL, yet many adults wait years to seek treatment.

    Left untreated, hearing loss can increase the likelihood of someone experiencing 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.”

    Another study carried out by the National Center for Biotechnology Information linked exposure to excessive noise to a 200% increased risk of anxiety and depression. The study demonstrated a steady increase in depression in relation to the higher noise volumes.


  1. Health Problems. The European Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report stating: “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.”

    Certain demographic groups are at a higher risk of health-related problems due to noise. Young children, who spend more time in bed than adults, are more exposed to night noise. Elderly adults or the chronically ill are more sensitive to disturbances at night. shift workers already experience stressed sleep schedules, and subsequently may be more easily disturbed. The environment we live in also plays a big factor; quiet residential neighborhoods are less likely than busy urban centers to cause sleep disruption.

  2. Healing & Immune Health. According to a report published by MedPage Today and the American Heart Association, poor sleep linked to noise disturbances affects our body’s ability to heal effectively. The study focused on hospital patients, who arguably need restful sleep the most. IV alarms, ringing phones and staff talking were the most common form of noise disturbance, often causing patients’ heart rates to spike by up to 10 beats per minute.
  3. 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.” In fact, the study found that 3% of heart attacks in Germany could be linked to long term exposure to loud noise levels.
  4. Damage To The Vocal Cords. If you work in a noisy environment, you’re likely going to increase the volume of your voice to be heard. Long-term shouting can result in more than just a sore throat.  A study published by the Abilene Christian University found that 50% of teachers have permanent damage to their vocal cords. Other studies have documented the higher prevalence of absenteeism in teachers with injuries to their vocal cords. In fact, 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.

Understanding what constitutes dangerous levels of noise is the first step towards protecting your health. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) advises that “long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the shorter the amount of time it takes for NIHL to happen.”

There are simple steps that you can take to protect your hearing and increase your awareness of the noise in your environment:

At Sutton Hearing, we understand the impact that noise can have on your hearing health and wellbeing. Detecting changes to your baseline hearing is the first step towards treating NIHL. If you work or play in an around high levels of noise, let us help you come up with a plan to protect your ears from unwanted damage. Book in your hearing assessment by calling (212) 786-5741 or click here to request an appointment online.

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