Hearing Health Blog

Man getting hearing loss from blowing leaves without hearing protection.

When you were a kid you most likely had no idea that cranking the volume up on your music could lead to health problems. You were just having fun listening to your tunes.

As you grew, you may have indulged in nights out at loud movies and concerts. It may even be common for you to have experienced loud noise at work. Long term health problems were the furthest thing from your mind.

You more likely know differently now. Noise-induced hearing impairment can show up in children as young as 12. But sound is so powerful it can actually be used as a weapon.

Can You Get Sick From Sound?

Actually, it Can. Particular sounds can evidently cause you to get ill according to doctors and scientists. Here’s the reason why.

How Loud Sound Affects Health

Extremely loud sounds harm the inner ear. After sound passes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by little hairs in the ears. Once these little hairs are damaged, they don’t ever heal or regenerate. Many people, as they age, deal with sensorineural hearing loss caused by this.

Dangerous volume begins at 85 decibels for an 8 hour period of time. It only takes 15 minutes for long-term impairment to develop at 100 dB. A loud concert is around 120 decibels, which causes instantaneous, irreversible harm.

Noises can also affect cardiovascular wellness. Obesity, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and other vascular concerns can be the result of elevated stress hormones induced by excessively loud noise. This could explain the headaches and memory issues that individuals subjected to loud noise complain about. These are directly linked to the health of your cardiovascular system.

Actually, one study revealed that sound volumes that start to affect the heart, and hormones are as low a 45 decibels. That’s about the volume of someone with a quiet indoor voice.

How Sound Frequency Impacts Health

Several years ago, diplomats in Cuba got sick when exposed to sounds. The sound in Cuba wasn’t that loud. They could drown it out with a tv. How could it have made people sick?

The answer is frequency.

High Frequency

Even at lower volumes, appreciable harm can be done by some high-frequency sound.

Does the sound of nails on a chalkboard cause you to cringe? Have you ever begged a co-worker to stop as they press their fingers across a folded piece of paper? Does the shrill sound of a violin put you on edge?

Damage was happening to your hearing if you’ve ever experienced pain from high-frequency sound. If you endured this for a time, regularly subjected yourself to it, or were exposed at a high volume, then the damage may have become irreversible.

Research has also discovered that damage can happen even if you can’t hear the sound. High-frequency sounds coming from trains, sensors, machinery, and other man-made devices could be emitting frequencies that do damage with too much exposure.

Low Frequency

Extremely low-frequency sound called “infrasound” can also affect your health. The vibrations can make you feel dizzy and physically ill. Some individuals even get migraine symptoms such as flashes of color and light.

How You Can Protect Your Hearing

Know how certain sounds make you feel. If you’re feeling pain or other symptoms when you’re exposed to specific sounds, reduce your exposure. Pain is commonly a warning sign of damage.

Have your hearing examined regularly by a hearing specialist to understand how your hearing might be changing over time.

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