When you were 16 and cranked the radio up to full volume, you had little thought about how this could damage your health. You were just having a good time listening to your tunes.
You had fun when you were growing up, going to loud concerts and movies. You may have even chosen a job where loud noise is the norm. Long term health concerns were the furthest thing from your mind.
You probably know differently today. Noise-induced hearing loss can appear in children as young as 12. But sound is so powerful it can actually be used as a weapon.
Can You Get Ill From Sound?
Actually, it Can. It’s evident to scientists and doctors alike that specific sound can make you sick. Here’s the reason why.
How Loud Sound Affects Health
Extremely loud sounds harm the inner ear. After sound goes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by little hairs in the ears. These hairs never regenerate once they are damaged. Many people, as they age, deal with sensorineural hearing loss caused by this.
Dangerous volume starts at 85 decibels for an 8 hour time frame. If you’re exposed to over 100 decibels, lasting damage takes place within 15 minutes. A loud concert is around 120 decibels, which brings about immediate, irreversible damage.
Cardiovascular health can also be impacted by noise. Subjection to loud sounds can boost stress hormones, which can contribute to clogged arteries, obesity, high blood pressure, and more. This might explain the headaches and memory problems that individuals exposed to loud noise complain about. Cardiovascular health is strongly linked to these symptoms.
Sound as low as 45 decibels can, as reported by one study, start to impact your hormones and your heart. A person speaking with a quiet indoor voice is at this volume level.
How Sound Frequency Affects Health
Several years ago, diplomats in Cuba became sick when exposed to sounds. The sound in Cuba wasn’t that loud. It could even be drowned out by a television. How might it have been able to make people sick?
Frequency is the answer.
Even at lower volumes, considerable harm can be done by certain high-frequency sound.
Does the sound of nails on a chalkboard make you cringe? Have you ever pleaded with a co-worker to stop as they run their fingers over a folded piece of paper? Does the shrill sound of a violin put you on edge?
If you’ve felt the energy of high-pitched sounds, the pain you felt was in fact damage happening to your hearing. The damage could have become irreversible if you’ve subjected yourself to this sort of sound repeatedly for longer time periods.
Research has also found that you don’t even have to be able to 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.
Extremely low-frequency sound known as “infrasound” can also affect your health. The vibrations can make you feel disoriented and physically ill. Some even experience flashes of light and color that are typical in migraine sufferers.
How You Can Safeguard Your Hearing
Be mindful of how you feel about particular sounds. If you’re feeling pain or other symptoms when you’re exposed to particular sounds, limit your exposure. If you’re feeling pain in your ears, you’re probably doing damage.
In order to know how your hearing could be changing over time, contact a hearing specialist for a hearing test.