Noise has always been an environmental issue. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that in ancient Rome, there were rules in place for the noise emitted from the iron wheels of wagons driven on stoned pavements, because they caused disruption of sleep and annoyance to the Romans. The issue of noise pollution is severe in many cities in developing countries and is caused mainly by traffic.
The WHO published a document titled Guidelines for Community Noise, which highlights the different effects of noise pollution on humans. Excessive levels of noise can cause noise-induced hearing impairment and sleep disturbance and also affect the cardiovascular and physiological balance and performance.
Gulf New spoke to Dr Bilal Ishtayeh, family medicine specialist at Mediclinic Welcare Hospital in Dubai, regarding these effects.
He said: “Noise is an invisible physical force in wave form that disrupts the electromagnetic system of our cognition and its proper and harmonious functioning that will cause all the effects listed above and chaotic features in on our body system. In any dynamical system, an introduction of a new object will definitely change the proper behaviour of the system either for good or bad and noise is one such object.”
Dr Ishtayeh broke it down in points to highlight how noise is affecting people.
1. It interferes with speech. In the presence of noise we may not able to follow, what the other person is saying.
2. Noise leads to emotional and behavioural stress. A person may feel disturbed in the presence of loud noise such as produced by beating of drums.
3. Noise may permanently damage hearing. A sudden loud noise can cause severe damage to the eardrum.
4. It increases the chances of occurrence of diseases such as headache, blood pressure or heart failure.
5. It leads to increased heart beat, constriction of blood vessels and dilation of pupils.
6. It is a problem especially for patients who need rest.
7. It may cause damage to the liver, brain and heart.”
Dr Ishtayeh also focused on the issue raised by many readers about how noise pollution is keeping them awake at night.
He said: “Lack of sleep can affect our immune system. Studies show that people who don’t get quality or enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus, such as a common cold. Lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover if you do get sick. During sleep, your immune system releases proteins called cytokines, some of which help promote sleep. Certain cytokines need to increase when you have an infection or inflammation, or when you’re under stress. Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep. So, your body needs sleep to fight infectious diseases.
“Long-term lack of sleep also increases your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart and cardiovascular diseases. The optimal amount for most adults is seven to eight hours of good sleep each night. Teenagers need nine to 10 hours of sleep, whereas school-aged children may need 10 or more hours of sleep. But, more sleep isn’t always better. For adults, sleeping more than nine to 10 hours a night may result in a poor quality of sleep, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep.”