Health Effects from Noise

Health Effects from Noise

A not-so-hidden danger around you

According to OSHA, the Occupational Safety Health Administration, thirty million Americans in the United States are exposed to occupational noise that is considered hazardous.  The Department of Labor Statistics reports that, at the time of this writing, 125,000 people per year suffer significant hearing loss.  Hearing loss is only one of many health issues caused by environmental noise.  Proactive means can and should be taken by individuals to avoid reduced quality of life and shorter lifespan

A variety of health problems are known to be caused by noise in our environment. Some of these health dangers include

  • speech delays
  • difficulty formulating words
  • hearing loss
  • ear pain
  • hypertension
  • unexplained dizziness
  • ischemic heart disease
  • sleep disturbances
  • childhood developmental issues (including speech and reading difficulties)
  • violent behavior
  • reduced ability to deal with stress
  • easy to anger
  • irritability
  • and more

 

Symptoms of Environmental Noise

The early symptoms of environmental noise pollution might be a mild sensation of stuffy ears or ringing in the ears known as tinnitus.  Sometimes the only sign of early damage to the inner ear from noise is difficulty understanding speech and hearing high frequency noise.  Depending upon the health issue, a large number of symptoms can manifest in individuals that look like the disease. For example, if hypertension were caused by environmental noise the symptoms might be headaches or fainting or noise bleeds.  If ischemic heart disease were caused by environmental noise the symptoms might be chest pain or difficulty breathing.

Noise at Work           

Employees in a workplace should not be exposed to anything greater than 85 dBA per eight hour daily exposure where dBA stands for decibala.  Workplace noise for construction worker allows a higher limit of 90 dBA per eight hours of noise exposure.  However, outdoor noise should never exceed between 60 and 65 dBA.  Workplace noise can result from a variety of sources, including noisy vehicles, aircraft's, loud music and television and road traffic.

Outdoor (everyday) Noise Limits

As stated above, outdoor noise should never be louder than 60-65 dBA. It is important to realize that a person may not recognize that they are exposed to loud noises especially if they are distracted or have been exposed to an environment of noise on a routine basis; in this instance, one might become accustomed to noise, but still suffer many series health effects.  Sources of outdoor noise can include:  yelling in the household, noisy vehicles, aircraft's, loud music and television and road traffic.

What can be done to minimize or eliminate health risks from excessive noise? 

  1. First, be aware of your home, outside and working environments.
  2. Take notice of the noise levels.
  3. Do other people think that it is noise? Just lowering a few decibels of occupational noise can make a huge difference in one's general health and wellbeing and susceptibility to the chronic health problems mentioned in this article.
  4. Old equipment making excessive noise could be replaced in the work or home environment; refurbished and should be maintained properly.
  5. Structural barriers can be constructed between sources of noise and the person within “ear shot” of the noise.
  6. Earplugs and headphones can be used as well, but these are impractical depending upon one's circumstances.

Noise adds up!

Damage from noise has cumulative effects and affect individuals quite differently; one person notices the noise and others do not; some individuals suffer health issues from noise and others do not, etc.  How could someone not notice noise? Think of this like being exposed to secondhand smoke from a smoker; at first you cough but soon you become sensitized to the smoke and no longer cough or even consciously smell the smoke.  Nonetheless, the smoke, just like noise, continues to exert it’s damaging effects upon your body ranging from heart disease to insomnia.

Prevention and Treatment

Hearing loss is universally inevitable with aging is known as presbycusis and this hearing loss is not treatable once it occurs. This is because the hearing loss affects the inner ear along with the auditory nerve.  The term neurosensory loss is the type experienced in some aging persons, and with noise damage to the hearing nerve, that is not helped with medications or hearing aids.  That’s right!  Hearing aids do not help those with neurosensory hearing loss because they only elevate the intensity of the unheard noises and do not improve hearing.  In other words, hearing aids only make louder the inaudible noise heard by those with neurosensory hearing loss.

Slowing down nerve down nerve degeneration and improving upon your propensity for developing hearing loss, may be possible if you consider the following:

  1. 1.    EAT THESE FOODS
    1. a.     Drink plenty of water daily (body weight divided by 2, multiplied by 0.8 is the number of ounces your body needs, more if you are exercising).
    2. Increase the amount of whole, unprocessed foods in your diet including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and raw nuts and seeds – it’s all high fiber.
    3. Limit saturated fats in animal products and increased your intake of polyunsatured fats such as those found in olive oils, salmon, tuna, cod and mackerel, currents and raw nuts and seeds.
    4. Fifteen to twenty percent of your diet should be from proteins such as lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, soy products and beans.
    5. Eat several small meals throughout the day and chew thoroughly- eat every 2 hrs.
    6. Supplement your diet with the supplements in this article if appropriate.

 

  1. 2.    AVOID THESE FOODS
    1. a.     Eliminate or drastically reduce your intake of processed and refined foods, simple sugars, and fried foods
    2. Eliminate refined and processed sugars like those in candy and desserts.
    3. c.     Eliminate coffee
    4. d.    Do not drink colas (with phosphorous).
    5. e.     Do not drink fluids with your meals.
    6. f.      Do not eat when you are stressed and on the run.

 

  1. 3.    LIFESTYLE CONSIDERATIONS
    1. Remove yourself from the noise if possible.
    2. Eliminate the noise is possible.
    3. Wear earplugs (carry with you)
    4. Choose the right earphones that can block out ambient noise
    5. Take the nutritional supplements below

 

  1. 4.    NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS
    1. Omega 3 fatty acids: Take 2-4 grams per day of high DHA content product that is preferably vegetarian and organic. Helps repair damaged and inflamed nerves; promotes healing and reduces nerve degeneration.
    2. Herbs:

i.     Gingko biloba: Take 100-300 mg per day. Helps improve blood flow.

ii.     Butcher’s broom: Take a tincture as directed. Helps improve blood flow along with gingko biloba.

  1. Ubiquinol: Take 100-400 mg per day. Helps improve nerve conduction and slows nerve degeneration.
  2. Magnesium chelate: Take 200 mg of chelated magnesium daily for best absorption. Most abundant mineral in the nervous system and in nerves and helps to maintain normal function.
  3. Methylated B12 liquid: Take 1000-5000 mcg per day of methylated or active vitamin B12. Acts as a neuroprotectant.
  4. Active folic acid: Works along with active vitamin B12 to protect auditory and other nerves.
  5. Comprehensive antioxidants including: vitamin C, selenium and vitamin E.  Take as directed. Helps to reduce the oxidative stress that is ultimately responsible for nerve breakdown in response to noise and other factors such as aging.
  6. B-complex including vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6: Take a comprehensive multivitamin as directed. Required for a large number of energetic processes in the body for repair.
  7. Vitamin D: Take 1000 IUs per day, or better yet, get a vitamin D blood test to idealize your needed dose. Vitamin D is a neuro-protectant.
  8. Alpha-lipoic acid: Take 100-200 mg per day of this important water and fat-soluble antioxidant. It has been well-studied to protect nerves.
  9. Zinc picolinate along with synergistic minerals: Shown in studies to improve hearing loss and immunity, take zinc picolinate at a dose of 50 mg per day.
  10. Glutathione: Take 500 mg of reduced glutathione per day to protect nerve degeneration.
  11. Amino acids including:

i.     Acetyl-L-carnitine: at a dose of 100 mg per day. Works with fatty acids to get these fats into nerve tissues.

ii.     Taurine: Take 100-200 mg per day of this amino acid that acts as a neuro-protectant antioxidant.

iii.     Methionine: Take 100-200 mg per day of this amino acid that acts as a neuro-protectant antioxidant.

 

  1. 5.    TESTS
    1. Go to your ears, noise and throat doctor who will perform an initial hearing screen. If it is determined that you have hearing loss, a variety of additional tests to determine the type and extent of hearing loss will be suggested.
    2. Nutritional Tests:

i.     CBC and chemistry

ii.     Serum ferritin

iii.     Homocysteine

iv.     Methylmalonic acid

v.     Vitamin D2 (25-OH D3)

vi.     Serum vitamin B12

vii.     Red blood cell (not serum) folic acid

viii.     Red blood cell magnesium (not serum)

 

As you can see, accelerated hearing loss and other health problems is possible if you know how to recognize this pervasive problem.

Posted on June 24, 2012 and filed under Editorial by Dr- Wald, General Health, The Journal News.