The Epic of Gilgamesh is one of the oldest surviving works of literature in the world.
In the ancient text, the gods vowed to exterminate mankind because all the noise humans created made it impossible to sleep.
Anyone who’s ever lived under a busy flight path or next to a highway or walked by a construction site can vouch for how annoying a constant racket can be… and maybe feel a little sympathy for those sleepless gods.
But all that noise comes with a lot more than just lost sleep.
On Deaf Ears
The most obvious problem from exposure to loud noises is hearing damage.
My grandfather was an ironworker. He built bridges and worked on skyscrapers for 50 years. But his hearing didn’t last nearly as long.
He used hearing aids for as long as I knew him. He was largely a full-time lip-reader by the time he retired.
And hearing loss is just the tip of the iceberg…
Being regularly exposed to loud noises does even worse things to the body.
Turn It Down
It stands to reason that the gods weren’t just mad at the humans because they couldn’t sleep. There’s a good chance they were extra irritable due to high blood pressure… or maybe something even worse.
A new study out of Germany just published in The FASEB Journal found that regular exposure to loud noises can lead to higher blood pressure.
The researchers found that subjects who were exposed to aircraft noise for just four days were much more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who weren’t.
Noise pollution from aircraft usually measures around 55 decibels.
And for every increase of 10 decibels, the risk of increased blood pressure goes up by a whopping 69%.
So for the subjects who already had high blood pressure, the noise aggravated heart damage even more…
It was found that the loud noises created additional oxidative stress and inflammation in the cardiovascular and nervous systems.
But even more concerning, those same loud noises for the same period of time also increased the likelihood of oxidative DNA damage.
When the DNA in the study was damaged, it led to gene mutations and the creation of lesions.
And this particular mutation was found to reproduce quickly and accumulate to form cancer.
While this isn’t the first study to conclude that loud noises can be damaging to our health, this new research highlights just how dangerous it can be.
And keep in mind that even seemingly banal activities can have serious effects…
For example, subway riders are exposed to 90 decibels of noise. Same goes for folks mowing the lawn (there’s a reason people who do that for a living often wear ear protection).
Being stuck in traffic with angry drivers honking their horns is even louder. That can measure as high as 110 decibels. And when a fire truck or ambulance passes, cover your ears. Those measure in the realm of 120 decibels.
So protect your ears… because you’ll be protecting a whole lot more.
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