Health News of 2014-08-15

The pollution wars; noise often forgotten

Many of us have been “immersed” in noise for so long that we have even forgotten what peace and quiet sounds like. What you feed your ears on can be the cause of your ill health. Imagine telling a friend that “the loud noise at the club is the cause of my hypertension.” This may sound absurd but it may be true. Once again let’s refer to the good old book for wisdom and direction. 1 Kings 6:7 states that “In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple while it was being built.” The Bible has answers to many situations that may take science centuries to discover. Maybe we should all be spending more time reading and applying the teachings and advise in the Bible. A friend commented that even in the Bible, loud noise or trumpets were used to win a battle, well that tells us about the power of sound. It may also be pardoned since it was only a brief occurrence and not persistent. A simplistic view of the hearing process is; sound waves or vibrations move through the air and hit the ear drum which is a stretched membrane. This causes the eardrum to vibrate and the brain interprets these vibrations as sound. Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Normal speech is about 40 decibels but as humans we can hear up to 60Db. Above 80dB will be considered as noise by many people and we experience pain at 120dB. Noise is unwanted sound. “A particular sound may be musical to one but noise to another, pleasant when soft but noise when loud.” Depending on your mood or situation a sound that you may normally enjoy may actually be considered as noise and sometimes sounds that you hardly notice suddenly become extremely irritating noise; a dripping or leaking tap at 2am when you have been woken up by barking dogs can leave you tossing in bed till you try to do something about it. Sources of Noise 1. Industrial a. Many heavy equipment in factories may create a lot of noise and may be harmful to staff as well as people in the neighbourhood. People working in such surroundings are often encouraged to wear earplugs b. Welding, grinding, vehicles are a few of these noise producing disease propagating “weapons” 2. Non-Industrial a. Some of these can be extremely irritating but unfortunately we either do not identify them as the cause of our anger or we simply do not know how to deal with them. i. Screaming babies, barking dogs, airplanes overhead, blaring sirens, tooting car horns (especially the commercial vehicles but don’t leave out the 10 minutes of honking that a neighbour returning home at 3am may subject you to). Radios set at extremely high volumes and TVs that may be heard three houses away cannot be left out. ii. Parties where music is set at eardrum splitting levels and yet you were neither invited to them nor even informed that such an increase in heart rate event will be taking place. iii. Noise pollution is so rampant, vans with loud music attempting to sell a few CDs, will not only be competing with the horn-happy taxi drivers for attention, they will also cause you more heartache as young people weave in between the moving cars to sell these CDs. They simply do not appear to care about their lives. iv. Some churches, information vans and telecommunication masts are other culprits. Effects of noise We are polluting everything: water, air, food and even the brain. These may be easy to comprehend but noise pollution is often taken as a way of life. Noise can even be detrimental to plants and animals. 1. Hearing-Related a. Deafness (loss of hearing) is one of the many problems that noise may cause. b. You remember listening to a particular music so many times, it continues to “play” in your ears even when the music is off? Noise does the same. We may continue to hear a loud sound that we were exposed to for several hours even in the comfort of our rooms. That ringing sound in your ears that never goes away? Your guess is as good as mine. c. Problems with communication; since we tend to become “used to” talking in a loud voice. This occurs when we spend a lot of time in very noisy settings so we tend to shout to be heard. 2. Others a. Noise causes anger or annoyance which leads to ill-temper, mental disturbance and violent behaviour b. Certainly it can also lead to inefficiency at work because we are unable to concentrate. c. It may cause us to lose sleep and this can open doors to all the above. These days sleep has become even more important after a lack of sleep has been associated with stroke. d. Noise can also cause your heart rate to rise as well as increase your blood pressure. Can you imagine doing all the right things to manage hypertension only to find your blood pressure continues to rise because you work or live in an extremely noisy area? e. Women beware but we may soon find out that some miscarriages and birth defects may be related to being exposed constantly to loud noise. We can protect ourselves from now by spreading the message that noise can be harmful. 1. Get professionals to help you put up buildings if noise production is likely 2. Reduce unnecessary noise in your home 3. Use the appropriate earplugs or sound blocking headphones if you work in a noisy environment. 4. It is about time that the Environmental Protection Agency enforced laws on noise levels e.g. CD selling vans attempting to rip your eardrums at midday. Are there laws on honking of horns? It appears fashionable to a certain category of people. Let us continue to take control of our health. AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI) Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel Moms’ Health Club (dressel@healthclubsgh.com) *Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition. Thought for the week – “For expert medical advice on current health issues such as Ebola and Cholera please call Healthline via 255 between 4pm and 10pm each day.” Reference: 1. Dealing With Noise Pollution – The Methodist Church Ghana, Weekly Bible Lessons. January – June 2012.