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Feb 9, 2010

Excessive Noise – Recognising The Effects !


Even relatively low levels of noise can cause problems under certain circumstances. Irritating background noise causes stress resulting in an increased metabolic rate and lowering an individual’s resistance to noise, which can lead to noise induced hearing loss.

When noise vibrations are picked up by thousands of tiny hair cells in the inner ear, they are bent by the motion of the liquid, sending nerve messages to the brain so we can hear sound.

At first they rebound and recover. Hair cells in the ear can be damaged, and permanently, with repeated exposure to the excessive noise. Severely harmed cells cannot transmit messages to the brain and the result is hearing damage to a greater or lesser degree.

Higher pitched sounds are the first to be affected, leading to misunderstanding when listening to others speak. But serious longer term symptoms may arise, depending on whether there is repeated exposure, say on a daily basis at the workplace.

Below is a basic checklist of possible symptoms experienced when exposed to excessive noise and which may lead to more serious permanent hearing damage :

Excessive noise can…

• Cause temporary ringing in the ears but can become permanent, causing distraction and severe difficulties in concentration or sleep.

• Affect sense of balance and cause dizziness.

• Be a source of stress which can lead to tiredness, irritability and headaches.

• Raise blood pressure, putting strain on the heart.

• Affect the eyes, causing loss of clarity, colour perception and night vision. Close reading may cause the pupils of the eyes to dilate, forcing the eyes to constantly refocus.

• Increases the risk of accidents by masking sounds of approaching danger or warnings.

• Interacts with other workplace hazards, such as carbon monoxide, trichlorethylene, vibration and heat, which may cause an increased risk of hearing loss.

Awareness of the effects of reduced hearing function is necessary to help identify deafness causes. Even if seeking hearing loss advice many years subsequent to the initial period of exposure, with a view to claiming compensation.