When you were a teenager and cranked up the radio to full volume, you weren’t thinking about how this might damage your health. You simply enjoyed the music.
You had a good time when you were growing up, going to the movies and loud concerts. You may have even picked a job where loud noise is the norm. Still, you didn’t think it had any long-term impact.
Now that you’re older and more mature, you more likely know better. Noise-induced hearing impairment can show up in kids as young as 12. But sound is so powerful it can actually be used as a weapon.
Can Sound Make You Sick?
In short, yes. It’s apparent to scientists and doctors alike that specific sound can make you ill. Here’s the reason why.
How Loud Sound Impacts Health
The inner ear can be injured by really loud sounds. 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 destroyed. Many people, as they age, deal with sensorineural hearing loss caused by this.
Over 85 dB of volume for an 8 hour period of time will begin to cause lasting impairment. If you’re subjected to over 100 decibels, lasting impairment happens within 15 minutes. At 120 dB, the volume of a rock concert, immediate, lasting damage will occur.
Noises can also affect cardiovascular health. Subjection to loud noise can boost stress hormones, which can lead to High blood pressure, clogged arteries, obesity, and more. So when individuals who are exposed to loud noise complain about headaches and memory loss, this could explain why. Cardiovascular health is directly related to these symptoms.
Sound as low as 45 decibels can, as reported by one study, start to impact your hormones and your heart. That’s approximately the volume of somebody with a quiet inside voice.
How Sound Frequency Affects Health
Cuban diplomats got sick after being subjected to certain sounds a few years ago. This sound wasn’t at a really loud volume. They could drown it out with a tv. So how could this type of sound cause people to get sick?
Frequency is the answer.
Even at lower volumes, significant damage can be done by certain high-frequency sound.
Does the sound of nails on a chalkboard make you cringe? Have you been driven nuts by somebody continuously dragging their finger over a folded piece of paper? Have you ever had to cover your ears during a violin recital?
If you’ve felt the power of high-frequency sounds, the pain you felt was actually damage happening to your hearing. If you endured this for a time, regularly exposed yourself to it, or were exposed at a high volume, then the damage might have become irreversible.
Studies have also discovered that damage can happen even if you can’t hear the sound. Harmful frequencies can come from lots of common devices like machinery, trains, sensors, etc.
Very low-frequency sound called “infrasound” can also affect your health. It can resonate the body in such a way that you feel nauseous and dizzy. Some individuals even experience migraine symptoms like flashes of light and color.
Protecting Your Hearing
Recognize how particular sounds make you feel. 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 probably doing damage.
Have your hearing tested regularly by a hearing specialist to understand how your hearing may be changing over time.