A Danish study provides some interesting facts on loud traffic noise and strokes in people over 65. (That’s more and more of us.) As the noise gets louder, the over-65 crowd increases risk of having a noise-induced stroke – and by a whole lot.
You’re zooming down the crowded highway. Trucks rumble by, motorcycles roar across your lane and the general din of cars around you is downright stressful. Maybe you should pull off the road and catch your breath.
Seniors increase the likelihood of stroke for every 10 decibels (dB) increase in the loudness of sound. Decibels are a measurement of the a sound volume. A jet plane flying 10 feet over your head puts out up to 140dB. Those rock concerts you used to enjoy can pump out 110dB no sweat, of special interest to head bangers.
The report included a large study group of 51,485 subjects and after crunching the numbers, scientists determined that the risk of stroke in Baby Boomers rises 14% for every 10 dB increase in volume.
What Are Safe Listening Levels?
Loud noise is responsible for lots of ailments. Deafness, vertigo, ringing in the ears, higher levels of stress and now, strokes. So what are safe levels of sound for those of us over 65? Check out the chart below for typical sound levels:
quiet library 30 dB
normal conversation 65 dB
telephone dial tone 80 dB
city street (in car) 85 dB
power mower 107 dB
gun shot (or jet plane) 140 dB
The study exposed participants to sounds ranging from 40 to 82dBs – from chit-chat to loud environments like sporting events and driving in traffic. Conclusion? The lower the volume on the road, the lower the chances of having a stroke.
So what can you do about it?
Noise Reduction Hits The Road
Let’s focus on street noise since that’s the focus of the Danish study, though many of these tips apply to daily life.
- First, roll up the windows. Even when in a locked tight car, sound levels increase and, over time, cause stress and a greater chance of stroke.
- Turn down your own music. You may enjoy some oldies on the way to work but you’re stressing your ears and your body. Turn it down, or better yet, turn it off.
- Purchase a pair of hear-through headphones. You can’t just plug your ears when cruising the highways. You need to hear warning signs of danger. However, there are plenty of noise-reduction devices on the market. Buy a pair.
- Choose a noise-reduction device that fits over the ear, not in the ear canal.
- If possible, run errands during off hours when traffic and traffic noise are less stressful.
- Stay in the slow lane and let the speeders and semi-trucks pass quickly. What’s the hurry?
The key to lowering the chance of a traffic noise induced stroke is noise reduction, no matter how it’s achieved. Take a few simple steps while driving and live longer.