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Noise and Its Connection to Our Overall Health and Wellness

Noise is all around us—so much so that we often drown it out and forget that it’s there. Although there are many sounds we all love—like music or a loved one’s voice—not all noise is wanted or beneficial. In fact, noise can actually be detrimental to your health!

Many people don’t realize that being surrounded by noise—particularly loud noise—can have effects that go far beyond hearing. Here are just some of the ways noise can impact your health and wellbeing.

  • Hearing loss: One of the most obvious ways noise can affect your health is by damaging your hearing. Prolonged exposure to moderately loud noise or a single, extremely loud incident can destroy the hair cells within your inner ear. Once damaged, hair cells cannot be restored, and permanent hearing loss occurs. You may also experience tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ear often linked to noise-induced hearing loss. Aside from the stress that comes with losing your hearing, it’s believed that hearing loss is closely linked to dementia in older adults.
  • Stress: Another extremely common impact noise has on health relates to stress. Loud noises that startle you, persistent loud noises and noise that prevents you from sleeping, relaxing or concentrating can trigger stress responses in your body. Your heart might beat faster, you might feel like you’re on high alert and your mood might turn sour. Over time, this can make you feel irritable and fatigued and may even make you more vulnerable to illness. Persistent stress may also worsen or develop into mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
  • High blood pressure: In a similar vein as stress, noise can cause you to suffer from hypertension, or high blood pressure. If noise causes you stress, your body releases chemicals called cortisol and adrenaline. These can make your heart beat faster and constrict your blood vessels, raising your blood pressure. If you are consistently exposed to noise, you may experience persistent high blood pressure, which can damage your blood vessels and put you at a higher risk for a heart attack or stroke!
  • Poor sleep: If you live in an apartment with noisy neighbors or with heavy traffic outside your window, noise may prevent you from sleeping properly. Lots of people have trouble falling asleep in noisy environments, and sounds may wake you up multiple times a night. This can make you feel tired, cranky and unfocused the next day. Over time, poor sleep may increase your risk for obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many more health problems.
  • Danger risk: In addition to potential long-term health risks, noise can be dangerous to you in an instant. In a loud environment, your ability to focus and properly monitor your surroundings may be hampered. Sounds can be extremely distracting, particularly in the workplace. This could lead you to make a mistake or get in an accident that puts you or others’ lives at risk.
  • Cognitive delays in children: Research indicates that excessive noise can impact children as their brains develop, potentially leading to problems with reading comprehension and long-term memory. Because noise can be a distraction while studying or learning, children may suffer when their growing brains are most vulnerable.

Excessive noise can be much more than an annoyance on a day-to-day basis. To protect your health and wellbeing, it’s important to limit your exposure to noise. 

Hearing protection products like earplugs and earmuffs may be useful, particularly while you’re trying to sleep, relax or study. Don’t wait to seek some peace and quiet—it’s good for your health!

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