Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Man getting hearing loss from blowing leaves without hearing protection.

When you were a kid you probably had no clue that cranking the volume up on your music could lead to health issues. You were simply having fun listening to your tunes.

You had fun when you were growing up, going to loud concerts and movies. It may even be normal for you to have experienced loud noise at work. Lasting health concerns were the furthest thing from your mind.

Now that you’re older and more mature, you more likely know better. Children as young as 12 can have lasting noise-induced hearing impairment. But did you realize that sound is so powerful that it can even be used as a weapon?

Can You Get Sick From Sound?

Actually, it Can. Particular sounds can evidently make you ill according to scientists and doctors. This is why.

How Loud Sound Affects Health

The inner ear can be damaged by really loud sounds. After sound goes through the membrane of the eardrum it’s picked up by tiny hairs in the ears. Once these tiny hairs are damaged, they don’t ever heal or regenerate. Many people, as they age, deal with sensorineural hearing loss caused by this.

Over 85 dB of volume for an 8 hour period will begin to cause long-term damage. If you’re subjected to over 100 decibels, long-term damage happens within 15 minutes. At 120 dB, the volume of a rock concert, instantaneous, permanent damage will take place.

Noises can also affect cardiovascular health. Exposure to loud sounds can increase stress hormones, which can contribute to clogged arteries, obesity, high blood pressure, and more. This could explain the headaches and memory issues that people subjected to loud noise complain about. Cardiovascular health is directly connected to these symptoms.

Sound as low as 45 decibels can, according to one study, start to have an impact on your hormones and your heart. A person talking with a quiet indoor voice is at this volume level.

How Sound Frequency Impacts Health

Cuban diplomats got sick after being exposed to certain sounds several years ago. The sound in Cuba wasn’t very loud. It could even be drowned out by a television. How might it have been able to make people sick?

The answer is frequency.

High Frequency

High frequency sounds such as the one experienced in Cuba can do considerable harm at lower volumes.

Have you ever cringed when someone scratched their nails on a chalkboard? Have you been driven nuts by somebody repeatedly dragging their finger over a folded piece of paper? Does the shrill sound of a violin put you on edge?

If you’ve felt the energy of high-pitched sounds, the pain you felt was actually damage being done to your hearing. The damage could have become permanent if you’ve exposed yourself to this sort of sound repeatedly for longer periods of time.

Research has also revealed that damage can happen even if you can’t hear the sound. High-frequency sounds emanating from trains, sensors, machinery, and other man-made devices could be emitting frequencies that do damage with too much exposure.

Low Frequency

Very low-frequency sound known as “infrasound” can also impact your health. It can resonate the body in such a way that you feel nauseous and disoriented. Some even get flashes of color and light that are common in migraine sufferers.

Safeguarding Your Hearing

Be aware of how you feel about specific sounds. If you’re feeling pain or other symptoms when you’re exposed to specific sounds, limit your exposure. Pain is often a warning sign of damage.

Have your hearing examined regularly by a hearing specialist to understand how your hearing could be changing over time.

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