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Is Noise Pollution Killing You?

We hear a lot about the dangers of air pollution, but a new study reveals that noise pollution can have its own set of health risks. Read on to find out the dangers of noise pollution and how to reverse the health risks of noise pollution below.
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If you are visiting Progressive Health, you care about your health. You probably read labels to check for unhealthy ingredients, try to make meals at home, exercise, and implement other steps to prevent the need for taking medication to treat common health concerns- or ideally, prevent them from occurring at all.

However, a new study has shown that food, exercise, and environmental pollution may not be the only risks to our health. In addition to the known risks, a new study published in European Heart Journal in 2015 has found that noise pollution can also damage your health. Noise pollution could potentially increase the risk of heart problems and increase cardiovascular death rates. Read more about this surprising study below:

Study Details

Researchers from London examined data from over 400,000 hospital admissions between 2003 and 2010. The researchers tracked the death rates from any cause and the death rates from cardiovascular incidences. The study authors then compared the hospital admission data with census data that showed where the patients lived and the noise levels in that area.

Previous studies cited by the researchers indicated that noise levels about 55 decibels are unhealthy to humans. The study authors found that a large portion of London residents are exposed to noise levels above 55 decibels on a day to day basis. In fact, 55 decibels is not that loud and is about the equivalent of a slightly louder-than-normal conversation.

The researchers found that when they compared the noise level of each patient’s home town to their rate of hospital admission for heart problems, patients were up to 9 percent more likely to be admitted for a heart-related problem or stroke if they lived in a noisy area. Regardless of their health condition, total mortality rates are 4 percent higher for individuals who live in noisy areas. The study authors stated that these findings back previous studies on noise levels.

A past study cited by the authors stated that about 500 additional cases of hypertension-related myocardial infarctions are caused by noise, and almost 800 strokes have noise-related causes.

Is Noise Really That Dangerous?

According to the London study, noise can be incredibly dangerous. Noise in itself is not dangerous (unless the level is so loud that it damages your hearing), but constantly living in a noisy, stressful environment can have visible health effects. In addition to increasing risk for total mortality, stroke, and heart problems; noise levels over 60 decibels have also been associated with the following health conditions:

 

Health Risks of Noise

 

 

According to the researchers, it is the cumulative effect of noise that can cause the most damage. The study authors stated, “This is preliminary epidemiological evidence of a relationship between traffic noise and morbidity and mortality.”

Why is Noise Deadly?

The study researchers stated that it is the cumulative effects of noise that have the most damaging effects on a person’s health. There are several possible theories on why noise is damaging, outlined below:

Constant Stress

Even if you don’t think it stresses you out, constant noise does have an effect on several parts of your body. When noise is playing, some level of your brain is trying to make sense of the sounds. This means your brain must work in overtime to process noise even when you are unaware that the noise is continuing.

Over time, this could cause the body to react too strongly to noise and increase your risk for death, stroke, and heart problems.

Flight or Fight Response

Another theory for why chronic noise is damaging to the body is that noise triggers the flight or fight response in some small way. Noise tells your body to stay alert rather than relax. Constantly living in fear of the noise will have a negative effect on the body from increasing stress hormones to increasing total inflammation throughout the body. The stress hormone also causes other problems, including weight gain. Many individuals who live under constant, relentless stress are overweight.

Reduce Your Risk of Noise Pollution

Unless you live in the most remote of locations, you will have to deal with noise pollution. According to studies, any noise level equal to that of an office (or a noisy family) is enough to increase your risk of health problems. However, you can reduce your risk by taking the following steps:

Keep Things Quiet

Maintain a calm and peaceful environment at home and at work. If your work/home environment is particularly noisy, try to promote quiet by playing peaceful music, wearing noise-cancelling headphones (not recommended when small children are awake), and eliminating sources of echoes by bringing rugs, pillows, and draperies into the home. Keep windows closed when things are noisy outside. Aside from these physical actions, try to speak softly, keep music low, and generally promote a spirit of calm, when possible.

Consider Moving

If you live in a noisy area, such as near a high-traffic road, airport, or manufacturing plant, moving may be your best option for preventing noise pollution. Generally, the suburbs are a little less noisy than the city, although suburb schools can get pretty noisy as well.

Supplement for Health

As a person living in the modern world, you will never completely eliminate noise pollution. No matter where you go, stressful noises will take their toll. This is why it is important to protect your health in other ways. In addition to exercise 3-4 times a week and a healthy diet, the following vitamins and supplements are beneficial for maintaining health and reducing cholesterol which can increase in stressful environments:

Vitamin E: vitamin E is an essential antioxidant that controls inflammation, reduces cholesterol, and generally boosts immunity and health. Stress and noise pollution cause inflammation levels to rise, which makes vitamin E one of the best vitamins to eat on a regular basis. You can find vitamin E in foods like kale, nuts, spinach, beets, peanuts, and other leafy greens.

Garlic: Just like vitamin E, garlic is an inflammation fighter. According to some studies, garlic has also been linked with a reduction in symptoms such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels. Garlic is also a powerful antioxidant and immune booster.

Turmeric: This yellow herb is a powerful treatment for the reduction of cholesterol and high blood pressure. Turmeric contains carcumin, which is a powerful fighter of inflammation and damage inside the body. Curcumin can even work on the molecular level to fight inflammation and heal cells, according to some recent studies.

Gum Guggul: It may have a strange name, but gum guggul can help fight the side effects of living in a noisy world. Studies show that gum guggul is able to reduce cholesterol, oxidation, and stress inside the body.

Unwind and De-Stress

Noise pollution is bad because it is a continual source of stress. Even though you don’t really feel like you are stressed in a noisy environment (although some people may), your body has to work extra hard to sense danger and hear other things that are important. Think about how sometimes it is frustrating when you cannot hear someone talking to you in a noisy room. That stress has visible effects within the body.

Over time, your body remains in a stressed condition in loud environments. You can counteract this stress by consciously relaxing and unwinding each day. Set aside a few minutes each day to relax. Don’t think about anything, and don’t stay in a noisy environment.

Go to a quiet place and do something relaxing, like drinking hot tea, taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to soothing music. Do not use electronic devices during this time, as they can increase stress levels and disrupt sleep.

Block Out Sound

As a last resort, block out as much sound as you can. You can do this at night by installing multiple draperies over your windows that will block out light and sound. A white noise machine can provide a constant source of low volume to keep you relaxed as you sleep and avoid disruptions from passing cars, animals, construction, and other noises that disrupt sleep. You can also wear earplugs to bed to block out even more sound, but if there are small children in the house you won’t want to block out all sounds in case the children wake up.

Noise Pollution is a Serious Issue

Although there are thousands of other ways that can kill you and have dangerous health consequences, studies show that noise can damage health in serious and documented ways. Noise pollution is linked to an increase in heart problems and total mortality. Strokes are the most common side effect of noise pollution, with a 10 percent increase in strokes or other heart problems occurring in individuals who live in noisy areas. It may not be the biggest health problem, but it is something to consider. Keep the noise down and live longer!

Sources


http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=111

http://eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/06/07/eurheartj.ehv216

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/07/01/study-links-traffic-noise-and-cardiovascular-disease/?ref=health

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