INTERNATIONAL NOISE AWARENESS DAY: Killing me with that noise
Noise pollution can cause health problems, including hearing loss, stress, high blood pressure, sleep disorder, and other assorted illnesses. Daily, we are exposed to sound from television, radio, traffic and appliances used at home. These sounds can be harmless to our hearing as they are heard at safe level. However, harmful noise that is too loud or sound that lasts a long time can damage the sensitive structure of the ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss.
It has been estimated by the World Health Organization (WHO) that 1.1 billion young people in the world could be at risk of hearing loss because of unsafe listening practices. Of particular note is exposure to excessive noise at work, which is one of the most significant but overlooked risks to health at the workplace.
The decibel (dB) is the unit used to measure the intensity of sound. The ear can hear everything from a soft whisper to an airplane. An increase of 10 decibels means that the sound is 10 times more powerful or intense on the decibel scale. It is twice as loud to the ears.
Normal breathing is 10 decibels, normal conversation is 60 decibels, and noise from a vacuum cleaner can reach up to 80 decibels. Fireworks, jackhammer and passing ambulance emit sound from 120-150 decibels and are sources of noise-induced hearing loss. Long or repeated exposure to sounds 85 decibels and over can also cause hearing loss. Children and elderly people are more sensitive to noise. A child's ear registers sound up to 20 decibels louder than an adult's ear.
PRESERVE YOUR HEARING
Noise-induced hearing loss is 100 per cent preventable and individuals must understand the danger of noise and apply good hearing health practice in everyday life. Hearing loss has no medical cure. The damaged hair cells cannot be restored. The progression of hearing loss can be stymied by avoiding further exposure to loud sounds.
Industrial noise is the most common reason for noise-induced hearing loss. One should protect oneself from highly amplified sounds at entertainment events and, for example, stay away from blaring, large speaker boxes.
The Noise Abatement Act indirectly serves to curtail exposure to amplified sound from both private and public premises, whether due to entertainment and/or workplace activities, usage of loud speakers at public and political meetings, or otherwise. The act presumes that certain sounds between particular hours can cause annoyance, sleep disruption or other adverse and undesirable effects. Such effects can be deleterious to one's health.
TIPS TO PROTECT
- Beware of noise that can cause damage (those at or above 85 decibels).
- Children who are too young to protect their hearing must have their ears protected by an adult.
- Wear earplugs or other hearing protective devices when involved in a loud activity (custom-made earplugs are available at JAD Hearing Services).
- If your workplace is noisy, wear an ear plug and take breaks away from the noise, such as lunch or coffee breaks
- Stay clear of the vuvuzelas at the various sports activities and other events.
- If you suspect hearing loss, get your ears tested (JAD Hearing Services has health professionals trained to assess and help individuals deal with hearing loss).
HEARING PROTECTIVE DEVICES
If you have any questions about noise and hearing loss, contact JAD Hearing Services. If you are often in situations where you are exposed to loud noise, JAD Hearing Services specialises in custom-made ear plugs in every colour for everyone, including musicians and industrial workers. JAD Hearing Services provides hearing testing and hearing aids for children and adults.
-Deniese Badroe is the director of Business Development Division at the Jamaica Association for the Deaf (JAD), Hope Estate, Papine; Email: email@example.com; website: jamdeaf.org.jm. For more information call us at 926-7001 or reach us on the web at www.jadclinic.com.jm.