Impact on Health
Noise has long been established as a health hazard. Exposure to noise not only can damage hearing permanently but also take a toll on our physical and mental health in many ways. Here’s how noise negatively impacts our health:
Even noise that may not be loud enough to harm our hearing can be an annoyance, make us tense, and increase our levels of stress and anxiety. Over time, chronic stress may also contribute to negative cardiovascular risks. Studies have also found noise to be associated with increased aggression, and there is also a link between noise exposure and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. (source)
Noisy classroom environments hinder learning, especially among those with hearing or learning difficulties. Studies have shown that in US classrooms, up to 25% of the information can be missed because of excessive noise and reverberation. Noise also impacts teachers, who can become less likely to talk to students, or will talk with them for shorter periods when noise levels are high. Click here to read Arline Bronzaft's comprehensive look at noise and its impact on children's health from Hearing Rehabilitation Quarterly.
Dementia and Cognitive Function
A growing body of research suggests that hearing loss, when left untreated, can put people at greater risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In fact, hearing loss is now believed to be the leading modifiable risk factor associated with dementia. As we wait for research to yield more learning on this important topic, it’s clear that protecting your hearing from noise and taking action to treat a hearing loss are important steps for maintaining cognitive health. (source).
Noise exposure is associated with adverse cardiovascular effects. Studies have found that living in noisy communities can increase the risk of elevated blood pressure (source), and that environmental noise is associated with an increased incidence of arterial hypertension, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke. (source)
Studies have linked noise exposure with changes to digestion. Simply put, noise can cause an upset stomach, an ulcer, acid reflux and other stomach ailments. The increased anxiety caused by loud noise exposure can also have a negative effect on our digestive systems.