Exposure to noise may not appear to be a significant threat, but it can have a significant impact on your hearing. There are permanent and temporary forms of hearing loss that are caused by exposure to noise, which may occur in one or both ears.
Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the second most common form of hearing loss. It is also entirely preventable.
Noise can post a risk to your hearing. But you may be surprised to know that it can also affect your overall well-being. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the hidden dangers of noise.
What is Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Before we delve into the hidden dangers of noise, let’s take a closer look at noise induced hearing loss.
Noise-induced hearing loss occurs when the sensitive structures of the inner ear are damaged, causing a loss in hearing. There are multiple potential causes of noise-induced hearing loss.
Hearing loss from NIHL can happen immediately, or it can progress gradually over time. NIHL can be temporary or permanent.
One thing is clear though: noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented. Despite this, it is growing at an exponential rate, affecting millions of people. Estimates from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) show that up to 24% of the U.S. population may experience NIHL.
The Hidden Dangers of Noise
Aside from your hearing, noise can pose a threat to your general wellbeing. Here are 6 hidden dangers of noise:
- Healthcare. The World Health Organization (WHO) found that noise exposure puts direct pressure on healthcare. Higher noise levels can be attributed to higher sick days, higher rates of healthcare treatment, greater reductions in workplace productivity and increased difficulty learning new skills.
- Mental Health. When left untreated, hearing loss could double the likelihood of experiencing poor mental health. In fact, this study demonstrated a 200% increase in risk of depression and anxiety after excessive noise exposure.
- Dementia/Cognitive Decline. A concerning statistic from John Hopkins states that your risk of developing dementia increases with the severity of an untreated hearing loss. Mild hearing loss increases the risk 2x, while more severe hearing loss could increase the risks by up to 5x.
- Heart Disease. A German study concluded that 3% of their nation’s heart attacks could be linked to long term exposure to loud noise levels. Other negative heart – noise implications are increased blood pressure, arrhythmic heartbeat and increases in the stress hormone cortisol stemming from irritation or poor sleep.
- Immune System / Healing. The WHO found patients will take longer to heal when exposed to noise. They proved hospital environmental noise can be around 95 dB which is enough over a prolonged period to cause permanent hearing loss. Quality sleep is essential for healing and the immune system; this study demonstrates that poor sleep increases risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Bear in mind that over stimulation from noise can make it difficult for your brain to settle down enough for a restful sleep.
- Vocal cord damage. If the noise level in your working environment is high – you end up shouting. Do this often enough, and you can end up with more than just a sore throat. This study took the example of teachers and found that 50% of them have permanently damaged vocal cords.
Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss
NIHL is a preventable form of hearing loss. Understanding the volume of noise around you is the first step towards protecting your hearing. Long or repeated exposure to sounds over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss.
You can use your smartphone to help measure sounds around you. Decibel X is a free smartphone app that will help you monitor the surrounding noise.
Alongside noise awareness, staying on top of your hearing assessments is important. Annual hearing assessments can identify any changes to your baseline hearing. The earlier your hearing loss is detected, the better!
If you’re due a hearing assessment, please get in touch with the hearing specialists at Hearing Aid Specialists of CT. Call 888-657-5768 today, or click here to book an appointment online.