Sound News: Noise hurts more than ears

November 15th, 2011
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Noise can cause damage to health that goes way beyond the ears according to recent research.

The world’s first comprehensive report on the health effects of noise, published by the World Health Organisation and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre Western European, found that excessive noise can cause a range of illnesses, the most serious being heart disease due to raised blood pressure and blood-borne concentrations of stress hormones and fatty materials. This can accumulate over time (even when people are asleep) and can eventually block blood vessels and trigger a heart attack. Sleep disturbance due to noise also accounts for the loss of an estimated 903,000 years of healthy living among Europeans every year. Annoyance caused by noise accounts for the largest loss (587,000 years to that cause alone), followed by learning deficits at 45,000 and tinnitus at 22,000.

Hearing issues are also having an impact on children and young people across the world due to excessive use of headphones. According to the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA) 12.5% of American children have permanent noise-induced hearing problems in one or both ears.

The reason many people choose to turn up their headphones is to drown out the noise of urban living. In the last three years there were more than 367,000 complaints about noise in London, with Tower Hamlets, Westminster, and Southwark boroughs receiving the most. We are in desperate need of both top-down (governmental), and bottom-up (social) action to reduce noise – before we raise an entire deaf generation.

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