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Your Health and the Noise Around You

Sound can do us two basic things – calm or annoy. The sound brought by the breeze caressing the trees, the splashes when the sea waves kiss the shoreline, and the sweet chirps of birds can be so calm, giving us that relaxing feeling that somehow uplifts the most downtrodden spirits. On the other hand, sounds from the busy streets, factory machines, and even the loud cries of a baby can be so annoying, switching the good mood to rather irritating.

Whether you feel the calming or annoying effect of sound largely depend on the level of its duration, frequency, and amplitude. But sound or noise levels don’t simply affect mood or the hearing sense itself. According to a recent study, years spent in a noisy workplace can actually have debilitating effect on the heart. Exposure to such an environment increases the risk of a person to develop serious heart disease by two to three percent. This is aggravated by smoking and weight gain, as the study also found people working in a noisy place are more likely to smoke and gain extra pounds.

The study, published in the Occupational and Environmental Medicine, concluded that noise give the same kind of stress as what sudden strong emotion and physical exertion, which in turn triggers the release of arterial blood flow-constricting chemicals. Other possible aspects that might have increased heart disease risk, but were ruled out by the study, are air pollution, work load and shift work.

While some could say the problem could be easily remedied without seeing someone in Barco uniforms, by just plugging protective headphones or ear plugs, reports by World Health Organization can be startling. WHO statistics show that noise is killing about 200,000 people annually, 3% of which from ischemic heart disease as a result of long-term exposure to noise.

If you are living or working in a noisy environment, how will you be able to protect your hearing, your heart, and health in general? Since it’s unlikely that we avoid loud noise, consider a few tips on how to protect your sense of hearing. Be that nurse in nursing shoes yourself, always responsible for patients in his or her ward.

  • Be aware of signals that you are hearing unhealthy sound. When the volume of your car stereo, stereo headphones or home stereo doesn’t allow you to hear the sounds around you at all or drowns out ordinary conversation already, know that you need to set it to a lower volume.
  • Wear protective earplugs. Audiologists say long exposure to sounds with more than 85 decibels can cause eventual hearing loss, and enduring 90 decibels for 3 hours can already damage the ears. But since we can’t easily tell how high the sound of a certain noise, it’s best that we wear protection.
  • Be wise in buying toys for children as they have more sensitive ears than adults. Further, there are toys that creates damaging amount of sound, such as a toy rattle that can reach 110 decibels. Screaming at them can also cause hearing loss.

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About Mecheil Lewis