What is this noise doing

What is noise and why does it make you sick?

Status: 07.09.2017 11:48 a.m. | archive
Some people perceive loud music as noise, while others like it.

The noise of passing cars, planes taking off, lawn mowers, leaf blowers or even children playing: we are exposed to a wide variety of noises 24 hours a day. Unlike our eyes, we cannot close our ears. The auditory cells inside the ears receive the sound waves of each tone and process them into signals that are evaluated in the brain. Whether we perceive a noise as noise is very subjective: "Noise is any unwanted loud noise", according to a definition by the Federal Environment Ministry.

Perception of noise is subjective

Some people are annoyed by loud music and perceive it as noise, others are not bothered by it and still others find it beautiful. A noise becomes noise when it is consciously or unconsciously disturbing and thus impairing well-being. The volume, the type of noise, the subjective assessment and the respective situation play a role here. The next-door lawnmower is all the more annoying if you don't like your neighbor anyway. The stronger a noise, the more people perceive it as unpleasant and therefore as noise.

The Germans are most disturbed by street noise

54 percent of Germans feel disturbed by street noise.

Noise is caused by vibrations that propagate in the air as sound waves. The strength of the sound - the volume - can be measured. The measured variable is called sound pressure, the displayed measured value is the sound pressure level, which is given in decibels (dB). Most people perceive noises between a sound pressure level of 40 to 65 decibels as normal and pleasant, while it becomes loud from around 80 decibels. According to studies by the Federal Environment Agency, 54 percent of Germans feel particularly disturbed by street noise, and 20 percent even feel badly impaired. In second place is aircraft noise, which slightly more than a fifth of the population feels disturbed by.

Noise makes you sick

It is undisputed that noise can make people sick and negatively affect a person's performance. According to the Federal Environment Ministry, even low noise levels of 25 decibels or more can lead to difficulty concentrating or sleeping. The type of noise plays a role here; a rushing stream is usually perceived as more pleasant than a running engine that has the same volume.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, studies suggest that continuous exposure of more than 65 decibels entails an increased health risk. Changes in the metabolism and hormone balance as well as in brain activity were proven. Sleep is impaired and stress hormones are released. In the long term, high blood pressure and heart attacks can also be the result.

The ears are more sensitive at night

Nocturnal noise is apparently a particular burden, because the ears react much more sensitively to noise while sleeping. Alarm signals in the brain are triggered and stress hormones are released, which in the long term can damage health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in five Europeans is regularly exposed to noise at night that could have significant health effects. As early as 2009, the WHO established guidelines for night-time noise exposure to protect the population: The limit value is an average noise level of a maximum of 40 decibels, which roughly corresponds to the level on a quiet street in a residential area.

Noise can damage your hearing

Noise above 85 decibels can even damage your hearing. Short, loud noises, for example from a firecracker, can lead to a temporary shift in the hearing waves, from which the ear usually recovers. Long-term or very loud noise above 120 decibels can also permanently damage the hearing. The so-called pain threshold of the human ear is 120 decibels.

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My afternoon | 09/08/2017 | 4:20 pm