When you were a kid you most likely had no idea that turning the volume up on your music could lead to health problems. You simply enjoyed the music.
As you got older, you probably indulged in nights out at loud concerts or the movies. You may have even chosen a job where loud noise is normal. Still, you didn’t think it had any lasting impact.
Now that you’re older and more mature, you more likely know better. Noise-induced hearing impairment can show up in kids as young as 12. But did you realize that sound is so formidable that it can even be used as a weapon?
Can You Get Ill From Sound?
Actually, you can. It’s apparent to doctors and scientists alike that specific sound can make you ill. This is the reason why.
How Loud Sound Affects Health
Very loud sounds injure the inner ear. After sound passes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by tiny hairs in the ears. Once these tiny hairs are destroyed, they don’t ever heal or regenerate. Many people, as they age, deal with sensorineural hearing loss caused by this.
Harmful volume starts at 85 decibels over an 8 hour time frame. It only takes 15 minutes for permanent impairment to develop at 100 dB. A loud concert is around 120 decibels, which brings about instantaneous, irreversible damage.
Noises can also affect cardiovascular health. Exposure to loud sounds can increase stress hormones, which can result in High blood pressure, clogged arteries, obesity, and more. So when individuals who are exposed to loud noise complain about headaches and memory loss, this could explain why. Cardiovascular health is directly connected to these symptoms.
Sound as low as 45 decibels can, as reported by one study, begin to have an impact on your hormones and your heart. A person talking with a quiet indoor voice is at this volume level.
How Sound Frequency Impacts Health
Cuban diplomats became sick after being exposed to certain sounds several years ago. This sound wasn’t at a very loud volume. It could even be drowned out by a television. How might it have been able to make people ill?
Frequency is the answer.
Even at lower volumes, significant harm can be done by certain high-frequency sound.
Have you ever cringed when someone scratched their nails on a chalkboard? Have you ever pleaded with a co-worker to stop as they run their fingers over a folded piece of paper? Have you ever needed to cover your ears during a violin recital?
If you’ve felt the power of high-pitched sounds, the pain you felt was in fact damage being done to your hearing. If you endured this for a time, frequently exposed yourself to it, or were exposed at a high volume, then the damage could have become irreversible.
Research has also discovered that you don’t even need to be able to hear the sound. High-pitched sounds coming from trains, sensors, machinery, and other man-made devices could be producing frequencies that do damage with too much exposure.
Extremely low-frequency sound called “infrasound” can also impact your health. The vibrations can make you feel disoriented and physically sick. Some people even get migraine symptoms such as flashes of light and color.
How You Can Protect Your Hearing
Be aware of how you feel about certain sounds. If you’re feeling pain or other symptoms when you’re around particular sounds, reduce your exposure. Pain is frequently a warning sign of damage.
Have your hearing examined regularly by a hearing specialist to understand how your hearing may be changing over time.