Effects of Noise Pollution

How does noise affect you? Why is it bad? The effects of noise on your ears, your body, your mind, your behavior.



Direct Effects of Noise

The most direct and obvious effect of noise is to our ears. Loud sounds can cause physical damage to the ear, resulting in:

boy with hands over ears
Image courtesy of NASA

These conditions can be either temporary or permanent.

You know that jolt of adrenaline you feel when you are surprised by a loud unexpected noise? That's an example of a hormonal disturbance (albeit a fleeting one). Other physiological effects of noise include:

  • Increased blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Increased heart rate and breathing rate
  • Digestive disturbances

For some people, noise is a trigger for migraine headaches.

Secondary Effects of Noise

If noise prevents you from sleeping, that introduces a host of other problems that are associated with sleep loss, such as reduced concentration and a weakened immune system. If kids are trying to learn in a noisy environment, their ability to focus and concentrate is reduced, which can naturally lead to long-term learning problems.

Noise can cause irritability and other mood changes, which can damage your relationships and interfere with your sex life. In some cases it can even contribute to an increase in aggressive behavior.

Have you ever been in a bar or restaurant that was so noisy that you made yourself hoarse trying to talk loudly enough to be heard? Maybe you gave up on having a meaningful conversation altogether. Maybe you even ended up drinking more than you intended to, because it was too noisy to converse. All of these are side effects of noise.

A few people find noise so intolerable that they go to extreme lengths to avoid it, staying home as much as possible and effectively becoming social hermits.

From these examples, a subtle but consistent pattern emerges: Noise creates social barriers between people.


Bottom Line: Stress!

Putting all these effects together, it's easy to see that the noise we experience adds to the stress in our lives.


Explore solutions here.





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