Daily life, particularly in industrialized countries, is getting way too loud. Our auditory systems simply arenâ??t designed for this constant onslaught of eardrum-shattering decibels…..
Too much noise means too much stress
Our nervous systemâ??s inbox is overflowing with â??emergencyâ?? emails and its keeping us in a constant state of stress. Having recently experienced the unnatural need to keep double-glazed windows constantly closed because of the relentless roar of traffic, I can relate to this!
Too much noise exposure can even cause birth defects
Over a lifetime, the cumulative impact of noise in many developed nations is impairing the hearing of a high percentage of the population. And itâ??s not only our hearing thatâ??s at risk. Regular noise exposure can cause hypertension, gastric ulcers, depression, digestive problems and increase the risk of strokes. Changes in our immune systems and birth defects have also been attributed to noise exposure. The sound level of a normal speaking voice is sixty to sixty-five decibels. Anything over that limit is detrimental to our health.
Noise levels produced by busy traffic triggers a stress response
This raises adrenaline levels, narrowing blood vessels and constricting arterial blood flow. The result is elevated blood pressure. High noise levels can also increase symptoms like headaches, fatigue, stomach ulcers and vertigo. Our physique, behavior and function are shaped by the environment; not only from birth but from conception.
A fetus is capable of perceiving sounds and responding to them by movement, as well as a change in heart rate. Between fifteen and sixty days after conception noise exposure is particularly risky as this is when our major internal organs and central nervous system is being formed. As noise pollution can cause a motherâ??s blood vessels to constrict, developmental problems can arise later due to reduced blood flow, oxygen and nutrition to the fetus.
Children exposed to too much noise can develop learning difficulties
Children may develop reading and speech difficulties if theyâ??re exposed to increased noise levels on a regular basis.
Of course we become habituated to our environments so if you live or work near a busy highway, train station or airport youâ??ve probably got used to the constant cacophony. If you work in a factory, youâ??ve probably adapted to the intrusive scream, roar or murmur of machinery. Prolonged exposure to music loud enough to explode your eardrums from a kilometre away seems quite normal to many, but the fact that the rate of hearing impairment in young people in the United States is 2.5 times greater than their parents, would indicate that our auditory systems donâ??t thrive on it.
Exposure to daily noise causes a number of psychological and physiological responses, whether we realize it or not, because weâ??ve been hardwired to respond in this way. Our bodyâ??s automatic nervous system is just doing what it was designed to do when it accelerates our heart rate, raises our blood pressure and releases stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol.
Overuse of the fight or flight response over a period of time has a dangerously destructive effect on our health!
A disrupted sleep pattern can lead to aggression
Life in a noisy neighbourhood (or with a noisy neighbour) can disrupt your sleep pattern, making you tired, irritable, unable to concentrate properly and accident prone. Aggression levels rise when weâ??re sleep deprived, as your noisy neighbour may have realized at 3am, just before you kneecapped him!
In Zimbabwe, despite record breaking stress levels, chaos and tragedy, noise pollution is not a problem. We have none of those everyday irritations like telephones ringing for instance. As traffic is fuel dependent, traffic jams are unheard of and the roar of aircraft has become a distant memory. Loud music would require a power supply as would the hums and beeps of electrical appliances so no problem there! If your auditory senses are taking strain, why not push the pause button and re-acquaint yourself with the bliss of peace and tranquility at your nearest spa
While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.