When you were younger you most likely had no idea that turning up the volume on your music could result in health concerns. You were simply having fun listening to your tunes.
As you got older, you probably indulged in evenings out at loud movies and concerts. You might have even picked a job where loud noise is normal. Lasting health problems were the furthest thing from your mind.
You probably know differently today. Children as young as 12 can have long-term noise-induced hearing loss. But sound is so powerful it can actually be used as a weapon.
Can You Get Sick From Sound?
Actually, it Can. It’s evident to scientists and doctors alike that certain sound can make you ill. Here’s the reason why.
How Health is Affected by Loud Noise
Very loud sounds damage the inner ear. After sound passes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by little hairs in the ears. These hairs never grow back once they are destroyed. 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 start to cause lasting impairment. It only takes 15 minutes for long-term damage to occur at 100 dB. A loud concert is around 120 decibels, which causes immediate, irreversible damage.
Cardiovascular health can also be impacted by noise. Exposure to loud noise can boost stress hormones, which can lead to High blood pressure, clogged arteries, obesity, and more. This might explain the memory and headache problems that people subjected to loud noise complain about. These are strongly related to cardiovascular health.
Sound as low as 45 decibels can, as reported by one study, begin to have an impact on your hormones and your heart. That’s around the volume of someone with a quiet indoor voice.
How Sound Frequency Affects Health
Cuban diplomats became sick after being subjected to certain sounds several years ago. This sound was not at a really high volume. It could even be drowned out by a television. How could it have made people ill?
The answer is frequency.
High frequency sounds such as the one experienced in Cuba can do significant damage at lower volumes.
Have you ever cringed when someone scraped their nails on a chalkboard? Have you ever begged a co-worker to stop as they press their fingers across a folded piece of paper? Have you ever had to cover your ears during a violin recital?
Damage was being done to your hearing if you’ve ever experienced pain from high-frequency sound. The damage may have become irreversible if you’ve subjected yourself to this kind of sound repeatedly for longer periods of time.
Research has also revealed that damage can happen even if you can’t hear the sound. High-frequency sounds coming from trains, sensors, machinery, and other man-made devices might be emitting frequencies that do damage with prolonged exposure.
Your health can also be affected by infrasound which is really low frequency sound. It can resonate the body in such a way that you feel nauseated and dizzy. Some individuals even get migraine symptoms like flashes of light and color.
How You Can Protect Your Hearing
Be mindful of how you feel about certain 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 most likely doing damage.
In order to know how your hearing may be changing over time, contact a hearing specialist for a hearing test.