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Be Aware of the Health Dangers of Noise Pollution

By Sandy Schroeder

Pause for a minute to listen to the noise around you. The hum of your office, the sounds of traffic outside, or an airplane overhead may create a background for your day. If those sounds increase too much, they can create stress, triggering a faster pulse or higher blood pressure. Over time the risk for heart attacks or stroke can go up.

At night, the effects may be even more pronounced.

A recent study found fairly low levels of sound may make men infertile, especially when noise regularly interrupts sleep. In an eight-year study of 200,000 men ages 20-59, there were 3,293 men were diagnosed as infertile. They were regularly exposed to noise levels above 55 decibels (dBs) at night. To put that in perspective, air conditioners average 60 dBs; an ambulance siren hits 115 dBs; a diesel truck hits 85 dbs.

Researchers say exposure to sound during sleep can affect heart rate, breathing and movements. Children, seniors and people who are ill or work different shifts, may be more affected by noise.

Be aware of noise around you in the daytime, and at night, and take steps to muffle it.

At the office - High quality, noise-cancelling headphones, background sound screens of rainfall or waves, and large plants can be used to reduce the impact of noise. Some companies have created dedicated quiet spaces as work sanctuaries. One Michigan company now offers a glassed 100 percent soundproof office cube. 

At home - Turn the volume down on TV, music, parties, electronic toys, and computer games. Use mats under speakers and appliances, air filters, carpeting, and bookcases to absorb sound. Check for noise ratings on appliances, monitor pet noise, and observe normal hours.

Outside - Pick the best times to run power tools and be careful with random sound makers such as wind chimes. When entertaining, skip music amplifiers, and remember sound travels. If you have alarms, arrange for ways to shut them off when you are away.

At night - Use earplugs and clean them regularly. Consider using a smartphone decibel checker to see what bedroom sound levels are at night. If they are over 55 dBs turn them down or replace them. If it’s feasible, put in double or triple-pane windows, seal frames with stripping, or use extra heavy fabric curtains.

Overall, consider just how valuable your hearing is to your quality of life, and make the effort to reduce noise pollution wherever you are.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Schaumburg, Ill.

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