Say No to Noise
Education and Advocacy Noise is seemingly inescapable. It’s pervasive and affects us tremendously.
Exiting the subway, I merge into the din of the city and am struck by a jumble of confusing, loud clamor; impatient commuters honking their horns, machines blasting obliviously into the concrete, an after-hours club sweeping its last straggler into the street on an invisible wave of bass notes. Noise is seemingly inescapable. It’s pervasive and yes, it affects us.
There is a growing concern among audiologists and other healthcare providers about the ever-increasing effect noise has on our hearing and overall health. Noise is defined as any unwanted sound; continued exposure to loud noise will cause hearing loss. But that’s not where it ends. Noise can affect us on physiological levels, causing sleep disturbance, elevated blood pressure and even gastrointestinal changes.
"Noise-Induced Hearing Loss can occur after a single exposure to a very loud sound. It can also be the result of long-term overexposure to moderate or loud sounds."
Noise-induced hearing loss
Noise is also a major source of annoyance and can impact our mental health. Intrusive noise can cause disputes between neighbors, leading to acts of aggression. Even seemingly mundane noise that is not necessarily hazardous to our hearing can cause stress and tension.
And when it comes to hearing loss, noise is one of the leading causes. Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) can occur after a single exposure to a very loud sound. It can also be the result of long-term overexposure to moderate or loud sounds. NIHL is cumulative, permanent and irreversible but it’s also preventable.
Establishing sensible listening habits can help protect your hearing. Whether it is recreational, sporting or occupational noise, wear ear protection. Turn down the volume on radios and personal listening devices such as MP3 players and iPods. Always try to distance yourself from the source of any loud noise and reduce the amount of time you spend in noisy environments.
"Establishing sensible listening habits can help protect your hearing. Whether it is recreational, sporting or occupational noise, wear ear protection."
If you have been exposed to loud noise, I suggest the remove — reduce — rest strategy. The first line of defense is to remove as much noise as possible from your environment. Reduce noise levels and find a quiet space where you can give your auditory system a rest.
If you have difficulty understanding speech or following a conversation with background noise, have ringing or buzzing in your ears, or if sounds seem muffled — you are probably experiencing hearing loss. Make an appointment with an audiologist to get your hearing checked and get advice on how to manage your hearing loss and how to prevent more from occurring.