How Noise Affects Your Health

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How Noise Affects Your Health

Have you ever had one of those days?  The kind where the kids are crying, the dog is barking, the vacuum cleaner is running, the television is blaring, one of your teenagers has the music volume turned up loud, the washer and dryer are running, and the dishwasher is going.  With all of that noise, you may feel like you just want to scream and run away.  You long for a few quiet moments away from the chaos in your house and find serenity.

When you are being inundated with large amounts of noise for an extended period of time, it can rob you of your peace of mind and your feeling of well-being.  Most people are unaware of how exposure to too much noise affects us, mentally, emotionally, and physically due to sensory overload.

Now, most people are aware that exposure to noise that is too loud can create a loss of hearing.  If you go to excessively loud rock concerts, your ears will probably be buzzing for a while after you leave the venue.  Factory workers, airline workers, and those working in construction also need to take precautions to protect their hearing.

But in everyday life, we come in contact with a great deal of noise that can actually work to compromise our mental and physical health.

Sources of noise pollution that can be found in your home are:

*Appliances such as your washing machine, dryer, mixers, dishwasher, coffee grinders, food processors, microwaves, and vacuums all contribute.

*Entertainment sources like television, stereos, video games, computer speakers, mp3 players.  When used with moderate to high volumes, they can have negative effects on us.

*Family noises like shouting, crying, singing, clapping, stomping of feet, coughing, sneezing, and snoring.

*Barking, whining, meowing, fighting, and panting from our pets.

*Others include toilets flushing, running water, heating and air conditioning systems.

Outside your home:

*Car horns, large trucks, airplanes, motorcycles, helicopters, tractors, and buses all contribute highly to the noise pollution problem.

*Any outdoor machinery such as generators, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and such contribute.

*Sporting events, concerts, movies, and restaurants can all be very loud and overload your system.

Even the small and irritating sounds like a faucet dripping, someone chewing food, or a clock ticking can overwhelm you if you are already overwhelmed by excessive noise.

Many of us have become so used to being continually bombarded by sound all around us, that we may not recognize how the excessive and chronic auditory stimuli creates stress and eventually health problems for us.

Even the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization acknowledge the growing health problem that is created by noise pollution.

According to the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for Community Noise, noise is an increasing public health problem.  Noise can have the following adverse health effects: hearing loss; sleep disturbances; cardiovascular and psychophysiologic problems; performance reduction; annoyance responses; and adverse social behavior.

http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hsb/noise/

If you find that small noises are irritating to you, if a ticking clock, or the chewing of a family member is becoming irritating to you, it may be a buildup of stress from all of the noise that you have encountered throughout your day.  You must do something to counteract the negative effects of noise induced stress in order to protect your health.

If you live in an area that experiences a lot of traffic or airport noise, you can counteract that with the use of a white noise machine that can mask some of the detrimental traffic or heavy machinery sounds.

Music is also a powerful tool that can be used for undoing the negative effects of sound pollution.  Soft, soothing music on your stereo or mp3 player can actually help to soothe you mentally and help to calm you psychologically.  Soothing music, or the sound of rain, or the ocean can also help to improve your mood and help you to concentrate better when working on projects or reading.  Amazingly, soft nature sounds or music do not contribute to noise pollution stress, but have a positive psychological effect and can quickly reduce your mental and physical stress.

Taking some quiet time each day can also be very helpful.  No television, no loud music…….just silence.

Meditation and deep breathing exercises can also be effective in helping you decompress and let go of some of the excess stress caused by noise pollution.

Also, if you do need to use loud appliances, earplugs can be a great way to reduce the amount of noise that is getting into your system.

If you have problems with noise waking you up while you are sleeping, try using a white noise machine, a fan, or listening to a soothing CD of gentle rain falling, the ocean, or other sounds of nature.  Earplugs are beneficial in helping to cover excessive traffic noise, or the snoring of a spouse or significant other.

Also, if a family member listens to the television or music too loudly, suggest they use headphones.  You can purchase headphones that plug into most televisions and stereo systems for very little, and wireless headphones are available as well.

Be proactive in combating the effects of stress in your life that are caused by noise.  Not only will you feel better, but you will find that you have more energy, a better mental attitude, and better concentration.  You will get much more done and be healthier for it!

Photo credit: © Andy Nowack | Dreamstime.com

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