Working professionals already deal with some sort of stress on a daily basis. However, people working in noisy environments have to battle the stress of a completely different kind, including their work stress. It has been found that people working in noisy environments are prone to much higher levels of blood pressure.1 For a clear and better understanding of this problem, let us focus on noise and its effects through this article.
What is noise?
Noise has been defined as “an unpleasant sound that may cause stress”. It has been noted that, in general, the continued exposure to noise is known to diminish the comprehensive quality of life. The effect of noise on people can be both psychological and physiological. Continued or chronic exposure to high levels of noise may eventually cause heart disease.2 It has been observed that continued exposure to noise affects hearing and further results in problems related to blood pressure.1
How the body reacts to noise
While the body has certain automatic coping or defence mechanisms to counter the impact of high levels of noise, there are certain effects on the body when it tries to cope with excessive noise exposure over a long period.
Here are some of the consequences of compromised health that occur after long-term exposure to noise:3
- Elevated blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Hypertension – with an increased chance of heart attack and strokes
The consequences of long-term exposure to noise
After continuous exposure to high noise, the body demonstrates changes such as raised levels of stress hormones as well as increased blood pressure.
Here are some other health problems that you may experience as a consequence of stress and uneasiness, as well as changes in blood pressure2:
- Disturbances in the normal patterns of sleep
- Lowered performance – including reduced mental and physical alertness and awareness
- Muscle cramps
- Giddiness, nausea and vomiting
- Heart disease caused by hypertension
It has been noticed that loud noise at the workplace is a contributor to blood pressure and other related issues.1 . It has been observed that even traffic noise can cause hypertension among people.2
Combatting noise at the workplace and outside environment
The most pertinent question in the minds of people is what can be done to counter the effect of noise.
Here are some general precautions that can be taken at work and outside:
- Curtail noise levels such that they are within the permissible limits. There are noise limits prescribed for general and work environment by global environmental agencies which can be used as a reference to help and keep noise levels within these limits.
- Heavy or noisy machinery or equipment should be replaced with ‘quiet’ models that make little or no noise.
- If you have to be in a noisy environment, you should try and wear earplugs and muffs for your safety to minimise the exposure to noise.
- If you live or work in noisy areas, you could use barriers or soundproof screens to minimise the noise in your home.
It is important to manage the noise before the noise starts managing you. Your well-being is your business!
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. High blood pressure and high cholesterol associated with noisy jobs [Internet]. [updated 2018 Mar 21; cited 2019 Dec 30]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0321-noisy-jobs.html.
2. Kalantary S, Dehghani A, Yekaninejad M, Omidi L, Rahimzadeh M. The effects of occupational noise on blood pressure and heart rate of workers in an automotive parts industry. ARYA Atheroscler. 2015 Jul;11(4):215-219. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4593656/.
3. Workplace Health and Safety – Electrical Safety Office Workers’ Compensation Regulator. Effects of excessive noise [Internet]. [updated 2017 Apr 4; cited 2019 Dec 30]. Available from: https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/injury-prevention-safety/hazardous-exposures/noise/effects-of-excessive-noise.
4. SafeWork SA. Noise & vibration in the workplace [Internet]. [cited 2019 Dec 30]. Available from: https://www.safework.sa.gov.au/health-safety/hazards-risks/noise-vibration/noise-vibration-workplace.