Improve Your Health When You Reduce Unwanted Noise

Improve Your Health When You Reduce Unwanted Noise

These tips can help you prevent noise-induced cardio problems.

When Simon & Garfunkel recorded their original folk version of “Sound of Silence,” they sold 2,000 copies. When producers, unbeknownst to them, added an electric guitar track, it became a mega-hit. Clearly, many folks prefer loud sounds—in some situations.

However, the onslaught of unwanted noise that surrounds most of you every day (and at night in urban areas) damages more than your hearing, according to Mathias Basner, MD, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology.

In his recent TED talk (“Why noise is bad for your health—and what you can do about it”) and his research, published in The Lancet, he says noise pollution is not only correlated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, it impacts your emotional wellbeing and may increase the risk for cancers and other chronic diseases. The US, he adds, could save $3.9 billion annually by lowering environmental noise levels by five decibels—and that’s just from expenses related to noise-induced cardio problems.

So, what can you do?

  • Make noise about excess din in your environment, including in movie theaters and restaurants.
  • Tell your city council to curb late-night disturbances, such as unnecessary sirens or garbage pickups.
  • Lower your family’s noise footprint (try raking leaves instead of using the leaf blower) and protect your kids from excess noise while using ear buds.
  • Get away to quiet places on weekends so you can enjoy the true sound of silence and ease the health-harm that unwanted noise can cause.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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