When you were 16 and cranked up the radio to full volume, you weren’t thinking about how this might harm your health. You were just having a good time listening to your tunes.
You had fun when you were growing up, going to loud concerts and movies. You may have even chosen a job where loud noise is normal. Lasting health issues were the furthest thing from your mind.
You probably know differently today. Children as young as 12 can have lasting noise-induced hearing impairment. But did you know that sound is so formidable that it can even be used as a weapon?
Can You Get Ill From Sound?
In fact, it Can. It’s apparent to doctors and scientists alike that certain sound can make you ill. Here’s why.
How Loud Sound Impacts Health
Extremely loud sounds injure the inner ear. After sound passes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by little hairs in the ears. These hairs never grow back once they are destroyed. This is what causes the sensorineural hearing loss that many people deal with as they age.
Damaging volume starts at 85 decibels for an 8 hour period of time. It only takes 15 minutes for long-term impairment to develop at 100 dB. At 120 dB, the volume of a rock concert, immediate, permanent damage will happen.
Cardiovascular wellness can also be affected by noise. Obesity, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and other vascular problems can be the consequence of elevated stress hormones brought on by excessively loud noise. So when people who are exposed to loud noise complain about headaches and memory loss, this could explain why. Cardiovascular health is strongly linked to these symptoms.
Actually, one study showed that sound volumes that start to impact the heart, and hormones are as low a 45 decibels. A person speaking with a quiet inside voice is at this volume level.
How Sound Frequency Impacts Health
Cuban diplomats got sick after being exposed to certain sounds a few years ago. This sound was not at a really high volume. It could even be blocked out by a television. How could it have made people sick?
Frequency is the answer.
High frequency sounds like the one experienced in Cuba can do significant damage at lower volumes.
Have you ever cringed when someone scraped their nails on a chalkboard? Have you been driven crazy by someone 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 force of high-pitched sounds, the pain you felt was in fact damage happening to your hearing. The damage may have become irreversible if you’ve subjected yourself to this sort of sound repeatedly for longer periods of time.
Studies have also revealed that damage can happen even if you can’t hear the sound. Damaging frequencies can come from many common devices like machinery, trains, sensors, etc.
Your health can also be impacted by infrasound which is extremely low frequency sound. The vibrations can make you feel disoriented and physically ill. Some even experience flashes of color and light that are typical in migraine sufferers.
Protecting Your Hearing
Be mindful of how you feel about particular sounds. Reduce your exposure if certain sounds make you feel pain or other symptoms. Pain is often a warning sign of damage.
Have your hearing examined regularly by a hearing specialist to understand how your hearing may be changing over time.