The Effects of Loud Noise On Your Health
This month there is a lot of interesting news to report from the world of audiology. There are findings connecting the effects of loud noise on high blood pressure, new ways to connect concert fans with protective hearing devices and a new role for “The Boss.”
Loud noise associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health1 (NIOSH) says that loud noise in the workplace is associated with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. That may sound like an odd connection but a study conducted by NIOSH showed that excessive noise in the workplace damages more than just hearing.
NIOSH reviewed data collected by the National Health Interview Survey in 2014 that was self-reported by participants. NIOSH reviewed health rates for the following conditions:
- Hearing difficulty
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Elevated cholesterol
- Coronary heart disease
Researchers analyzed the prevalence of these conditions in cases where there was also occupational noise exposure, and then looked at the occupation and industry of each participant. According to NIOSH, the results showed that “working in a noisy environment was associated with higher reported rates not only for hearing loss, but also for hypertension and high cholesterol.”
The potential health implications could affect millions of Americans; the U.S. Department of Labor reports that 22 million workers in the United States are exposed to loud noise levels at work each year.
Repeated exposure to concert level “noise” will cause hearing loss
Audiologists and ear, nose, throat specialists have long encouraged concert goers to wear earplugs to protect their hearing when they attend music concerts. Now a website2 makes it easy for music fans to compare the features of 20 different types of earplugs. It’s a highly detailed site based in Australia, and it allows music fans to quickly assess the noise reduction features of each type of earplug. Readers can easily link with each manufacturer’s site to read the fine details.
The site3, called HearSmart, developed a tool called What Plug? to test the attenuation level (the level to which decibels are filtered and reduced as they enter the ear) of each brand of earplug.
It’s important for concert goers to heed the warnings about hearing damage and wear earplugs to protect their hearing. Hearing loss will not occur with sound intake less than 75 decibels, even after long exposure. However, long or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. Music concerts pose noise levels far above that:
- Symphony playing at its peak: 120-137 decibels
- Amplified rock music heart at 4 to 6 feet away: 120 decibels
“The Boss” is now a hearing ambassador
Last but not least is the news that rock n’ roll legend Bruce Springsteen is now an ambassador for “conscious hearing”4. The Swiss charitable foundation “Hear the World Foundation” announced that Springsteen will lead their hearing loss prevention campaign. The fact that he has been in the music industry for 40 years and knows a thing or two about the importance of protecting one’s hearing might be one reason why he accepted the role.
The Hear the World Foundation supports people in need and focuses on children who suffer with hearing loss. Springsteen will help the foundation to raise worldwide awareness about hearing and ways to protect it. The goal is to raise money to support children in need who suffer with hearing loss and deliver treatments and hearing enhancements to help them develop normally.