When you were 16 and cranked up the radio to full volume, you had little thought about how this might affect your health. You were simply having fun listening to your tunes.
As you got older, you may have indulged in evenings out at loud movies and concerts. You might have even picked a career where loud noise is the norm. Lasting health problems were the furthest thing from your mind.
Now that you are older and more mature, you probably know better. Children as young as 12 can have long-term noise-induced hearing impairment. But did you know that sound is so powerful that it can even be used as a weapon?
Can Sound Make You Ill?
In short, yes. Certain sounds can evidently cause you to get sick according to doctors and scientists. Here’s the reason why.
How Loud Sound Affects Health
The inner ear can be damaged by very loud sounds. You have little hairs that pick up +
vibrations after they go through the eardrum membrane. Once these little hairs are destroyed, they don’t ever regenerate or heal. This is what causes the sensorineural hearing loss that many people deal with as they age.
Damaging volume begins at 85 decibels for an 8 hour period of time. If you’re exposed to over 100 decibels, long-term damage happens within 15 minutes. A loud concert is about 120 decibels, which triggers instant, irreversible harm.
Noises can also affect cardiovascular health. Subjection to loud sounds can increase stress hormones, which can lead to clogged arteries, obesity, high blood pressure, and more. This might explain the headaches and memory issues that individuals exposed to loud noise complain about. These are firmly related to the health of your cardiovascular system.
Sound as low as 45 decibels can, based on one study, begin to affect your hormones and your heart. That’s about the volume of someone with a quiet inside voice.
How Sound Frequency Impacts Health
Cuban diplomats became sick after being exposed to certain sounds a few years ago. The sound in Cuba wasn’t that loud. It could even be drowned out by a television. So how could this kind of sound make people sick?
The answer is frequency.
Even at lower volumes, appreciable damage can be done by certain high-frequency sound.
Have you ever cringed when someone scraped their nails on a chalkboard? Have you been driven crazy by somebody repeatedly dragging their finger over a folded piece of paper? Have you ever needed to plug your ears during a violin recital?
If you’ve felt the force of high-frequency 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 periods of time.
Studies have also discovered that you don’t even need 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 prolonged exposure.
Very low-frequency sound called “infrasound” can also affect your health. It can vibrate the body in such a way that you feel nauseous and disoriented. Some individuals even experience migraine symptoms like flashes of color and light.
Protecting Your Hearing
Recognize how specific sounds make you feel. Minimize your exposure if particular sounds make you feel pain or other symptoms. Pain is frequently a warning sign of damage.
In order to understand how your hearing could be changing over time, get in touch with a hearing specialist for a hearing test.