Noise exposure and its consequences for our auditory organs
One of the most serious problems in our modern world is noise pollution, which the WHO calls the “plague of our time”. In addition to many health effects, persistent noise can also lead to hearing loss.
What is noise?
Sound is a mechanical wave that propagates in a flexible medium such as air. The human ear senses pressure fluctuations caused by sound waves. We call noise those unpleasant, hurtful sounds that have a disturbing effect on our daily lives, work and rest. Constant industrial or environmental noise can also cause hearing damage, depending on their intensity and sound pressure level.
Our auditory organ
Our auditory organ, which is also part of our balancing organ, is the outer cochlea, which contains the eardrum, which receives incoming sounds, the middle ear, which amplifies these sounds many times over, and the inner ear, which converts sounds into electrical impulses and transmits them. to the auditory nerves and then to the brain. The human ear can detect sounds between 20-20,000 Hertz. (Human speech is about 60 decibels.) 90-100 decibel sounds already have a negative effect on our ears, and 130-140 decibels can already cause ear and headaches or hearing loss. The effects of noise on the body also depend on the age, health and mental state, living environment and social situation of each person. Noise exposure poses serious health risks from an early age. Our ears cannot exclude any sound, so it is exposed to continuous sound effects.
Every year, more and more people suffer from hearing loss due to noise
Studies show that the number of people whose hearing is impaired by noise is constantly increasing. The sounds of cars, work machines, trains and dog barking infiltrating our home day and night are extremely unpleasant. For those living in condominiums, household noises, loud music, quarrels from neighboring flats are a great annoyance. In the workplaces, in the open-plan offices, the sounds of machines, computers, telephones, technical devices, and the conversation of colleagues are present as a constant noise load around us. Constant noises impair our ability to concentrate and remember, as a result of which the performance of our work can also deteriorate significantly. Hurtful sounds can cause headaches, nervousness and tension, or even depression. Due to growing health problems, we are forced to take sick leave more often, which can also be to the detriment of work.
Symptoms of hearing loss due to noise
One of the most common symptoms is tinnitus, and balance organ complaints. First, the perception of high tones usually deteriorates. Sounds with a frequency of 4000 Hertz can cause nerve hearing loss, which is called noise lace. Loss of hearing of high tones is gradually followed by impairment of deep tones, meaning that hearing can occur. Depending on the amount and duration of the noise load, even the entire sound range may not be detected.
How can we protect against noise?
If we can, choose a quieter, more peaceful living environment. In the case of newly built properties, it is worth considering the acoustic characteristics of the building materials when planning. Used or older buildings almost always require retrofit sound insulation. Flat, hard and large surfaces - due to their structure - are not able to absorb sounds, they reflect them, so very unpleasant echoes are created, which interfere with the acoustics of the rooms, the intelligibility of speech. Because of this, we usually raise our voices and are forced to communicate out loud, which is also detrimental to our hearing organs. Today, we have a wide variety of acoustic elements that are excellent for noise reduction purposes. It is recommended to place sound-insulating panels on the walls and ceilings, sound-absorbing curtains in front of the glass surfaces, acoustic panels, and acoustic carpets on the floors. We can protect against noise in similar ways in the workplace. We can expect a spectacular improvement in our quality of life, mood and work performance if we pay attention to noise reduction.