The modern way of life is changing rapidly along with scientific progress. Today we don’t have to leave the house to buy food, chat with our friends or meet new people. We easily solve everyday tasks that we could have spent a lot of time and effort on before. Meanwhile, the modern way of life, especially in large cities, carries a great danger. First of all, this is the negative impact of anthropogenic factors. Many health institutes talk about the harmful effects of exhaust fumes, poor nutrition, bad habits, and constant stress. Indeed, such factors significantly affect our health, causing various problems and diseases. However, there are other destructive factors. First of all, we are talking about noise pollution!
What is noise pollution?
Noise accompanies a person everywhere in the city: on the street, in transport, and at work. Unfortunately, it will not leave us even at home, where we should rest and recover. Modern people rarely think about it. We are used to the car noise, the noise of highways, and the sounds of machinery. Meanwhile, noise exposure is a serious problem. It carries certain risk factors.
Noise pollution is an irritating noise of an anthropogenic nature, exceeding the level of the natural sound background. In addition, it is any sound undesirable for a person or a combination of sounds of different intensities that can have an undesirable effect on the human body and interfere with its vital activity. Most importantly, the city noise surrounding us is not as harmless as it seems at first glance!
The world is getting louder
Harmful noise surrounds us in everyday life. Do we think about it? Not until we have health problems. Meanwhile, cities and suburbs are getting noisier and noisier every year.
Measurements show that the volume of the background sound in large cities increases by an average of 0.5−1 dB per year. First of all, it is associated with an increase in the number of vehicles in the agglomeration, both personal and public. Transport is one of the main sources of noise. For understanding, the “volume” of the car exceeds 70 dB, and the railway – 100 dB.
The situation is much worse in areas located near airports and railway interchanges. There the noise level reaches 140 dB. If you work and live in large cities such as New York, Tokyo, or Paris, then you are most likely exposed to noise in 70-90 dB. The exact value depends on the specific area of residence and the amount of transport in it.
Do we expose to noise only in cities? Not at all. You won’t be able to enjoy peace in all remote corners. For example, in the fjords of Alaska and Antarctica, the average noise level now exceeds 100 dB, which is much higher than in many cities! There is no transport, factories, and other types of human activity here.
Is prolonged noise exposure dangerous?
Most people are used to living in noisy cities without thinking about the noise pollution surrounding them. Meanwhile, doctors are increasingly diagnosing diseases and health problems caused by prolonged exposure to noise.
The most comfortable sound level is 20-30 dB, as in a quiet park, for example. If it reaches 40-42 dB, a person may feel a deterioration in the quality of sleep. Serious negative effects occur when the noise level exceeds 50 dB. As mentioned above, in large cities it is significantly higher, which is why people have chronic stress. It, in turn, provokes cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and strokes. Cardiovascular diseases are the main factor of mortality. In addition, high noise levels have a significant impact on mental health and can cause depression and anxiety disorder.
Prolonged noise exposure leads to a gradual decrease in hearing acuity, which decreases the quality of human life. A person experiences physiological and psychological difficulties in the background of hearing loss. Thus, noise pollution is a serious threat. It can’t be ignored!
Why does hearing acuity decrease?
Prolonged noise exposure negatively affects human health, including hearing. Why is this happening?
The organs of hearing have a complex structure. The hair cells located in the inner ear react to external sounds and create corresponding electrical impulses. Then these impulses enter the brain through the auditory nerve. Areas of the brain process incoming information, creating an appropriate perception of sounds. A problem in any area (formation, transmission, processing of sound pulses, etc.) leads to hearing impairment.
Unfortunately, hearing organs are very fragile. They are easily damaged, breaking the entire chain. Prolonged noise exposure negatively affects and destroys hair cells. The situation is aggravated by the fact that these cells are not being restored! Damaged cells can no longer function normally, which is one of the causes of age-related hearing loss. Over time, the number of damaged cells accumulates, which leads to gradual hearing loss. To some extent, noise exposure accelerates the process. The more a person is exposed to such effects, the more damaged hair cells appear. Over time, hearing deteriorates noticeably.
Unfortunately, today people often have sensorineural hearing loss caused by noise exposure. The number of middle-aged people and even teenagers are growing among patients! The reason for it is simple. These are certain professions (musicians, builders, airport workers, etc.) and listening to music at high volume. The latter reason is the most common among teenagers and children.
How to protect yourself and your loved ones?
You must limit the noise effect on the body to protect yourself and your loved ones. Unfortunately, you can’t completely protect yourself from the surrounding noise in urban conditions. However, you can significantly reduce its negative effect. If the noise level exceeds 50 dB, it makes sense to install noise insulation. Noise insulation is quite expensive, but it’s still better than suffering from serious health problems in the future. Move to a quieter area or even a suburb if sound insulation does not help.
Do not hesitate if you begin to feel a decrease in hearing acuity. Unfortunately, the hearing won’t recover over time. The longer you wait, the harder the further treatment will be. It is better to immediately contact Staten Island audiology at the first sign of hearing problems. Today there are effective methods of treatment. They effectively restore the ability to hear. Time is the main factor in the effectiveness of treatment.
In addition, audiologists recommend using protective tools, which is relevant for professions related to noise exposure and for people living in noisy areas. Use special protective earplugs or headphones. They will help reduce the negative impact of noise.
Limit yourself and your children to listening to music. Doctors do not recommend listening to music with headphones for more than 2 hours a day. Exceeding this norm negatively affects hearing health.