During a recent trip to New York City, I found myself becoming more and more annoyed. The noise was driving me crazy. That got me thinking. What is the problem with noise? What does it do to people who live in noisy places?

Here Are Some Facts About Noise:

  • It is the leading cause of hearing loss
  • It can lead to emotional problems including anxiety, aggression and fatigue
  • It can cause physical problems including coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, migraines, and reduced and poor quality sleep.

Loud noises such as those from factory machines, construction sight banging or even rock music can damage and destroy the hair cells in our ears responsible for relaying sound signals to the brain. Once the hairs are gone they cannot be replaced.

Whether the sound is scary or not, the body experiences a stress response which can cause high blood pressure (that can increase the risk for heart disease) and the continuous release of stress hormones if the noise continues. Noise is associated with trouble concentrating, poor learning in children, reduced motivation and aggressive behavior when prolonged.

A study done in New York City in the 1970’s found that noise has a negative impact on learning. Unfortunately, urban development has caused the noise levels to go up and it is having a negative effect on the population exposed. One of the places with growing noise issues is the hospital. There are beeps and machine noises and a continuous din in most hospitals.

Knowing this, it is key that we all find a way to be quiet. Getting out into nature is an easy way to escape the noise. Living with it, there are some things that can help. Carpeting will dampen the sound. Double paned windows help. Planting trees around houses helps to cushion sound. If there is outside noise where you live, and it still gets in, then play soothing sounds and music to drown it out. If you work in a noisy environment or go to a loud concert then make sure you wear ear protection. If you wind up in the hospital, use your headphones, and drown out the noise with calming sounds.

The effects of noise pollution are subtle but substantial. Being aware of the problem we can find ways to avoid the potential emotional and physical distress that can result.

 “I like it where it gets dark at night, and if you want noise, you have to make it yourself.”

H. Beam Piper, Fuzzies and Other People