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Sound Advice: The Effect of Noise on the Ear

Chitra Sanam
In India, Mumbai is rated as the third noisiest city in the world by the World Health Organization, and Delhi is not being far behind on that list either.

Continuous noise levels in excess of 90 decibels can cause loss of hearing and cause damage to the nervous system as well. This is because your ears don’t just help you hear, they also play a role in helping you maintain body balance. Semi-circular canals at the top of the cochlea contain a fluid that moves when you move your head. It sends signals to your brain that your body is moving.

Loud and catastrophic! Common noise levels

Firecrackers:                 150dB
Typical nightclub:           110 dB
Ears register pain:         120 dB
Loud music:                  About 120 dB
Heavy traffic:                90 dB
Quiet home:                  20 dB
Normal conversation:     40 dB
Ringing telephone:         60 dB
Air conditioner:              75 dB


Tips to deal with sound pollution
  1. Wear earplugs
  2. During TV commercials turn off the volume
  3. Heavy curtains, rugs and carpets can help reduce intensity of sound
  4. Use sound-blocking headphones
Invest in relaxation music that helps soothe stress caused by  
Dr. E C Vinaya Kumar

Study of Traffic Policemen by SAHI

In a study that the Society to Aid the Hearing Impaired (SAHI) undertook on the effects of noise pollution on traffic police, it was established that traffic policemen are indeed one of the most vulnerable groups exposed to the problem.

Of the 76 per cent who were screened had audiological evidence of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL). Traffic policemen who had completed a five-year tenure, had 100 per cent incidence of hearing loss.

A small percentage of policemen had hearing loss due to other problems for which surgeries were conducted, and medication and hearing aids were prescribed. SAHI also gave counseling to the traffic policemen and recommended possible preventive measures.
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  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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