Excess Noise: Bad for Your Mind and Body
When Patrick and Nancy bought a seaside flat in Scotland, they were hoping for a peaceful retirement. Last year, builders began repair work on the ferry terminal opposite their home. Unfortunately, the work could only be done at low tide.
"They would start at 10:00 p.m. and go on for six hours," recalls Patrick. "The next night they'd start an hour later for another six hours. The noise was tremendous."
The workmen used old and noisy equipment, and left open the acoustic doors supposed to silence the generators. "It was stressful and we couldn't sleep," says Patrick. "Each night we'd think, 'Is this going to start again tonight?'"
How Noise Affects You Mentally and Physically
Unwanted noise that can't be controlled is a problem worth shouting about. Whether it is jack-hammering construction workers or your neighbor's 150-decibel sound system, it can result in mental and physical suffering. In addition to hearing loss, excess noise has been linked to stress, sleep disturbances, hypertension, cardiovascular disorders, and even deficits in children's learning and reading skills.
How to Combat Toxic Noise
There are several steps you can take to avoid letting noise affect you:
American Psychological Association
Center for Hearing and Communication
Canadian Academy of Audiology
The Canadian Hearing Society
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Noise. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
Noise pollution. US Environmental Protection Agency website. Available at:
Last reviewed November 2013 by Michael Woods, MD