Negative Effects of Loud Noise on Our Bodies

| 9/6/2016 12:27:00 PM

It turns out that loud noise is not just annoying, but it also has significant negative effects in the body.

An intriguing study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in 2004, reports that a single session of exposure to very loud noise (100 decibels) for 12 hours caused a significant increase of DNA fragmentation in the adrenal gland cells. These endocrine glands sit on top of the kidneys and release hormones in response to stress, such as cortisol and adrenaline, the fight or flight hormone.

Loud noise is a form of stress as well, called acoustic stress and this is probably why the adrenals were affected so much. The levels of the stress hormones were elevated in the blood following exposure to loud noise. Experiments with consecutive sessions of loud noise exposure (simulating situations of chronic exposure to loud noises, such as living in a big city) show that the levels of stress hormones in the blood reach maximum levels within 9 days and remained in those levels for the duration of the experiment.

Cells possess sophisticated molecular tools to repair DNA breaks within 2 hours (if both strands are broken) or 15 minutes (if only one DNA strand is broken). Interestingly, in the single exposure to loud noise study, cells were unable to repair their DNA even after a day of not being exposed to noise. This suggests that noise is not just harming the DNA or increases the stress hormones, but also diminishes the ability of cells to heal and restore their physiological functions. Somehow, the cellular mechanisms that restore genetic problems remain temporarily inactive after exposure to loud noise.

The cardiovascular system seems to be very sensitive to acoustical stress as well. A study published in 2003 shows that this may be just the tip of the iceberg, since heart cells actually suffer extensive structural and molecular damage following 12 hours of exposure to 100 decibels.

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