When you were a teenager and cranked up the radio to full volume, you had little thought about how this could damage your health. You just enjoyed the music.
You had fun when you were growing up, going to the movies and loud concerts. It might even be common for you to have experienced loud noise at work. Lasting health issues were the furthest thing from your mind.
Now that you are older and more mature, you probably know better. Noise-induced hearing loss can appear in children as young as 12. But sound is so powerful it can even be used as a weapon.
Can You Get Sick From Sound?
In short, yes. It’s evident to doctors and scientists alike that certain sound can make you sick. Here’s the reason why.
How Health is Impacted by Loud Noise
Really loud sounds harm the inner ear. After sound passes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by tiny hairs in the ears. These hairs never grow back once they are damaged. 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 begin to cause lasting damage. It only takes 15 minutes for long-term impairment to occur at 100 dB. At 120 dB, the volume of a rock concert, instant, lasting damage will happen.
Noises can also impact cardiovascular health. Exposure to loud noise can increase stress hormones, which can contribute to High blood pressure, clogged arteries, obesity, and more. So when individuals who are subjected to loud noise complain about headaches and memory loss, this could explain why. These are directly related to cardiovascular health.
In fact, one study showed that sound volumes that start to affect the heart, and hormones are as low a 45 decibels. A person talking with a quiet indoor voice is at this volume level.
How Sound Frequency Impacts Health
Several years ago, diplomats in Cuba got sick when exposed to sounds. This sound was not at a really high volume. They were able to drown it out with a tv. So how could this kind of sound make people sick?
The answer is frequency.
Even at lower volumes, considerable damage can be done by certain high-frequency sound.
Does the sound of nails on a chalkboard make you cringe? Have you ever begged a co-worker to stop as they press their fingers over a folded piece of paper? Does the shrill sound of a violin put you on edge?
Damage was happening to your hearing if you’ve ever felt pain from high-pitched sound. The damage may have become irreversible if you’ve exposed yourself to this kind of sound repeatedly for longer periods of time.
Research has also found that you don’t even have to be able to hear the sound. High-pitched sounds emanating from sensors, trains, machinery, and other man-made devices may be producing frequencies that do damage with prolonged exposure.
Very low-frequency sound known as “infrasound” can also affect your health. The vibrations can make you feel disoriented and physically sick. Some people even get migraine symptoms such as flashes of color and light.
How You Can Safeguard Your Hearing
Know how particular sounds make you feel. If you’re feeling pain or other symptoms when you’re exposed to specific sounds, limit your exposure. Pain is often a warning sign of damage.
Get your hearing checked regularly by a hearing specialist to find out how your hearing might be changing over time.