How Does Noise Affect Your Health?

Many studies have investigated how excessive noise harms health and disrupts our daily lives. It’s not just about our hearing; the effects are far reaching. Here we will briefly explain some of these and why it’s important to protect yourself.

Mental Health

We’ve all experienced loud and ongoing noises; i.e during construction work, or roadworks or even when commuting. At the end of the day, what happens? We’re tired, in a foul mood, our ears hurt and we may possibly have a headache.

Why? Our body could be responding to perceived danger by releasing the stress hormone cortisol (even if we are asleep). Frequent repetition of this response may impact hormone levels, reduce your immune system, cause irritability and maybe social withdrawal.

A study carried out by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) showed a 200% increase in the risk of anxiety and depression in working-age adults subjected to excessive noise. There is also growing evidencethat the impact of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) on damaged nerve endings can cause inflammation in the brain. This has the potential to affect cognition and lead to dementia as this John Hopkins study found.


Because noise exposure can trigger irritation and annoyance it drives blood pressure up. A German study has found that it also causes irregular heartbeat, which could cause blood clots, stroke and heart failure. In fact, 3% of heart attacks in Germany can be linked to noise exposure.

Disturbed Sleep

An overstimulated or overactive brain, makes it difficult to relax which leads to poor quality sleep. A lack of sleep impacts the immune system, slows healing and has health consequences such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, as shown in this study.

Concentration and Performance Reduce

The extra work your brain does to filter out noise in order for you concentrate is very draining. It also reduces focus and problem solving skills, not to mention a decline in motivation.


Noise exposure makes your auditory system have to work harder to filter out noise. It can cause damage to delicate hair cells resulting in permanent hearing loss. Loud noise can also cause tinnitus. But it’s not just how loud a sound is, it’s how long or repeatedly you are exposed to it. For this reason, you should be aware of noise levels. To quantify, these are noises you may experience on a daily basis, and their corresponding noise levels:

  • Most conversation is around 50 – 60 dB.
  • Residential traffic will be around 50 db, with freeway traffic around 70 dB.
  • Heavy traffic, such as in commuting conditions, can reach 85 dB.
  • The subway can average 90 – 100 dB.
  • A motorcycle will be around 95-100 dB.
  • Jet engines taking off reach 150 dB.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the maximum exposure time at 85 dBA is eight hours. Exposure to levels of 110 dB can cause damage to your hearing after just 1 minute and 29 seconds.

What You Can Do

  • Invest in custom fit earplugs.
  • Download a decibel app on your phone.
  • Try closing windows when you sleep.
  • Consider a white noise machine.
  • Consider solutions such as the library if it’s too noisy to work at home.
  • Treating hearing loss with hearing aids can help reduce your risk of developing some health conditions- Have regular check ups.

Noise induced hearing loss is preventable, but as the above shows- noise has many ill effects on health. If you have any concerns about your hearing or wish to find out more about protecting your hearing, come in and see the team at Oviatt Hearing & Balance. Book in a hearing assessment with our hearing care specialists by calling 888-342-4734. Alternatively, click here to request an appointment online.

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