Saturday December 7, 2019

Noise is Contaminating the Natural Sounds: Causes and Effects of Noise Pollution

Nowadays, surroundings have become deafening, we cannot hear the natural sounds around us. We need to listen to the nature to understand it and assimilate with it, for the optimum utilization of our brain faculties, so as to get a deep inside experience.

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Noise pollution
Noise Pollution. Illustration by Mehr Arora of Same Condition.com

– by Dr. Bharti Raizada

Sound is the sensation perceived by the sense of hearing, whereas noise is a loud, unwanted, unpleasant, and harsh sound. The natural sounds such as Chirping of birds, Gurgling and splash of water, Movement of trees/ leaves, Bee buzz are ear-friendly as well as eco-friendly sounds.

Noises Everywhere

In our daily life, too much noise pollution is going all around us. Almost every equipment and machine at homes such as refrigerator, microwave, mixers, vacuum cleaners, air conditioners, exhaust fans, exercising machines etc. creates continuous noise when operated.

When we go outside our homes, there are noises which constantly keep banging our eardrum. For example, traffic noises, sirens, and music. Whether it may be a shopping mall, a restaurant or a get-together noise in the form of music is forced on us. Even in the hospitals, televisions are always on with high volume most of the times. We may think that when we are sleeping we are not exposed to noise. However, this is not true. The brain is still getting exposure. We end up hearing noises all day and night, whether we choose it or not.

Causes of the Noise Pollution

Many sounds which are disturbing and harmful to the ears fall in the categories of noise pollution. Some glaring examples of noise are ones created by Airplanes, Trains, Traffic on road and Jackhammers and machinery (refrigerator, washing machines, mixers, grinders, hair dryer, water heaters, phones, and computers).

If our surroundings are deafening, we cannot hear the natural sounds which are soothing to the ears. We need to listen to the nature to understand it and assimilate with it for the optimum utilization our brain faculties, so as to get a deep inside experience which will help us to introspect, to think, and to contemplate.

There are some people who get used to noises and it does not bother them. While some are very sensitive to it and even develop misophonia (a dislike or hatred of some sounds).

Noise pollution
Noise Pollution. Illustration by Mehr Arora of Same Condition.com

Hearing abilities of many animals and insects rely on the waves produced by natural sounds, for example, Elephants communicate with each other by infrasounds, Bats use ultrasound to find insects and to avoid hitting an object, Whales find their babies by sending clicking sounds and then listening to bounce back echo. Excessive and continuous noise, created by modern, developed human, is affecting animals, water creatures, and birds also.

Effects of Noise Pollution 

Noise has many effects on our body, mind, behavior, and mood. It can affect hearing and even lead to deafness. It Increases risk of hypertension and stroke. It annoys and upsets people and leads to release of stress hormones and sleep disturbances. There are effects on children also in terms of learning and cognition.

How can we protect ourselves from noise pollution?

It is of utmost importance to control noise to prevent long-lasting damages. If we do not want to see something, we can choose not to go there, however, it is not that easy in case of noise. The initial step is to accept that noise is a pollutant then decrease its production at the source, and increase the distance between a source and yourself.

  • Use decibel meter app –it measures noise and then action can be taken to move away from it or decrease it.
  • Use noise canceling headphones.
  • Use quiet pavement which muffles traffic noise.
  • Use quiet machinery.
  • Install insulated walls in the home and workplace to muffle or cut off noises from other rooms.

The government should set noise level standards, make noise laws, and strictly enforce those.

Take a step to reduce noise pollution

One has to be careful and try to decrease noise at personal level e.g. do not make loud noises when walking, decrease the volume of TV and music so that it is not annoying or uncomfortable for others. Be sensitive to needs of the people who are sensitive to noises. Insist on getting your quiet time back and let others enjoy their noise-free life.

Dr. Raizada is an Anesthesiologist in Chicago and CEO of Same Condition (a platform that connects people with Same Condition). 

 

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Here’s How Healthy Diet Reduces Risk Of Hearing Loss

Study has found that healthy diet can lower the risk of hearing loss

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Healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet can lower the risk of hearing loss. Pixabay

Researchers have found that eating a healthy diet may reduce the risk of acquired hearing loss.

Using longitudinal data collected in the Nurses’ Health Study II Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS), researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in US, examined three-year changes in hearing sensitivities and found that women whose eating patterns adhered more closely to commonly recommended healthful dietary patterns have substantially lowered risk of decline in hearing sensitivity.

“A common perception is that hearing loss is an inevitable part of the aging process. However, our research focuses on identifying potentially modifiable risk factors – that is, things that we can change in our diet and lifestyle to prevent hearing loss or delay its progression,” said lead author Sharon Curhan.

“The benefits of adherence to healthful dietary patterns have been associated with numerous positive health outcomes and eating a healthy diet may also help reduce the risk of hearing loss,” Curhan added.

Previous studies have suggested that higher intake of specific nutrients and certain food, such as the carotenoids beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin (found in squash, carrots, oranges and other fruits and vegetables) were associated with lower risk of self-reported hearing loss.

Healthy diet for hearing
Hearing Loss is believed to be the part of the aging process but a healthy diet can lower the risk of hearing loss. Pixabay

For the study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the researchers established 19 geographically diverse testing sites across the US and trained teams of licensed audiologists to follow standardised CHEARS methods.

The audiologists measured changes in pure-tone hearing thresholds, the lowest volume that a pitch can be detected by the participant in a given ear, over the course of three years.

An audiologist presented tones of different frequencies (0.5, 1 and 2 kHz as low-frequencies; at 3 kHz and 4 kHz as mid-frequencies; and at 6 kHz and 8 kHz as higher frequencies) at variable “loudness” levels and participants were asked to indicate when they could just barely hear the tone.

Using over 20 years of dietary intake information that was collected every four years beginning in 1991, the researchers investigated how closely participants’ long-term diets resembled some well-established and currently recommended dietary patterns, such as the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010).

Greater adherence to these dietary patterns has been associated with a number of important health outcomes, including lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and death as well as healthy aging.

The team found that the odds of a decline in mid-frequency hearing sensitivities were almost 30 per cent lower among those whose diets most closely resembled these healthful dietary patterns, compared with women whose diets least resembled the healthy diet. In the higher frequencies, the odds were up to 25 per cent lower.

Also Read- Mutations in Genes Associated with Heart Disease: Study

“The association between diet and hearing sensitivity decline encompassed frequencies that are critical for speech understanding,” said Curhan.

“We were surprised that so many women demonstrated hearing decline over such a relatively short period of time,” Curhan added. (IANS)