Excessive amounts of loud, unpleasant noise can lead to multiple health issues and a heightened risk of heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, according to a study published and conducted by The New York Times.

The National Library of Medicine said when a person hears a noise, that sound is registered to the brain and, depending on the sound’s volume or nature, it can cause different reactions in the heart and other organs in the nervous system.

The Times said unpleasant sounds are relayed specifically to the amygdala, or stress center of the brain, and if activated too much, the brain may send signals for the rest of the body to:

  • Unnecessarily raise adrenaline, cortisol and other body chemical levels.
  • Raise blood pressure.
  • Trigger more inflammatory cells to be made, which heightens the risk for heart diseases, heart attacks or strokes.

Rick Neitzel, professor of environmental health sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, told the health education platform Healthline, “Noise has long been ignored as a pollutant in this country and around the world.”

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Noise pollution

National Geographic defines noise pollution as “any unwanted or disturbing sound that affects the health and well-being of humans and other organisms.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the World Health Organization said “noise exposure levels should not exceed 70 (decibels) over a 24-hour period.”

A study conducted by the Apple hearing study team estimated every 1 in 3 American adults is exposed to unpleasant noise in levels that exceed the 70 decibels recommendation.

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Neitzel, a principal investigator in the Apple hearing study, told Healthline, “We hope to continue to raise awareness about noise in the U.S. with our ongoing research and study updates,” and “eventually hope to influence changes that will reduce exposures and their resulting health impacts.”

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Different types of hearing loss

The CDC said the four kinds of hearing loss are:

  • Conductive hearing loss, caused by something blocking noise from traveling through the outer or middle ear.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss, caused by an issue in the inner ear or hearing nerve.
  • Mixed hearing loss, a combination of a conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder, when damage to the inner ear or hearing nerve causes the sound to not be organized in a way the brain understands.

Temporary or permanent hearing loss caused by loud noise happens when noise damages the nerve that carries information about that noise to the brain, the CDC said.

The National Institutes of Health recommends talking with your doctor if you notice signs of hearing loss.

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