When you were a teenager and turned the radio up to full volume, you had little thought about how this could damage your health. You just enjoyed the music.
As you got older, you may have indulged in evenings out at loud movies and concerts. You could have even picked a job where loud noise is the norm. Lasting health issues were the furthest thing from your mind.
Now that you are older and more mature, you more likely know better. Noise-induced hearing impairment can appear 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. It’s apparent to scientists and doctors alike that certain sound can make you sick. Here’s why.
How Loud Sound Impacts Health
Extremely loud sounds harm the inner ear. After sound goes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by tiny hairs in the ears. These hairs never regenerate once they are damaged. This is what causes the sensorineural hearing loss that many people deal with as they age.
Over 85 dB of volume for an 8 hour period of time will begin to cause long-term impairment. It only takes 15 minutes for long-term impairment to develop at 100 dB. At 120 dB, the volume of a rock concert, instantaneous, irreversible impairment will take place.
Noises can also affect cardiovascular health. Obesity, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, and other vascular concerns can be the result of elevated stress hormones induced by excessively loud noise. So when people who are exposed to loud noise complain about headaches and memory loss, this could explain why. These are directly connected to the health of your cardiovascular system.
Sound as low as 45 decibels can, according to one study, start to affect your hormones and your heart. That’s around the volume of someone with a quiet inside voice.
How Sound Frequency Impacts Health
Several years ago, diplomats in Cuba got sick when subjected to sounds. The sound in Cuba wasn’t that loud. It could even be blocked out by a television. So how could this kind of sound make people sick?
The answer is frequency.
High frequency sounds like the one experienced in Cuba can do considerable harm 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 power of high-pitched sounds, the pain you felt was actually damage happening to your hearing. If you endured this for an extended period of time, regularly exposed yourself to it, or were exposed at a high volume, then the damage might have become irreversible.
Studies have also discovered that damage can happen even if you can’t hear the sound. Harmful frequencies can come from many common devices like machinery, trains, sensors, etc.
Your health can also be affected by infrasound which is really low frequency sound. It can resonate the body in such a way that the person feels nauseous and dizzy. Some individuals even experience migraine symptoms such as flashes of light and color.
How You Can Protect Your Hearing
Be aware of how you feel about specific sounds. Reduce your exposure if certain sounds make you feel pain or other symptoms. If you’re feeling pain in your ears, you’re most likely doing damage.
Have your hearing tested regularly by a hearing specialist to find out how your hearing may be changing over time.