Noise and its effects

What is Noise?

From sufferers’ point of view, it is any sound, which they would have stopped if they could. It is undesirable, unpleasant and untimely sound, which can be continuous or intermittent. Besides this, with the vast diversity of human culture and individual preferences, it can be empathized that, One man’s music can be other man’s Noise.

Scientifically, it can be described as a complex waveform, having uncertain periodicity and with one or more frequency spectrums intermixed, measurable in terms of

  • Duration in time.
  • Frequency spectrum in Hz or cycles per sec.
  • Loudness or Sound Pressure Level (SPL) in Decibels(dB).

Some of the comparative examples for estimate of Decibels values are:

  • Whisper: 20-30 dB
  • Normal converstation: 60-65 dB
  • Street Traffic, Shouted conversation: 80-85 dB
  • Loud Discotheques, Generators: 120 dB
  • Jet Engine (about 90 - 100 feet away): 140 dB

A daily exposure to about 80 dB is the upper limit, people can tolerate without significant damage to their hearing.

How much damaging Noise can be?

Most of the Psychological Effects of noise, depend on the pre-existing physical and psychological state of the individual.

Some of us, already living in noisy surroundings, may be more tolerant to Noise. While the others, having the previledge of a peaceful neighbourhood, may easily get irritated by the same sound. The ‘irritaion threshold’ will also be low for neurotic persons or for someone who is already annoyed or unhappy.

For the other, Physical Effects, of sound, there is no special mercy for any individual, for example, a very loud sound can rupture the eardrum or damage the ear in other ways, of everyone whoever comes in its vicinity.

What can the Noise do to you?

Effects on the Ear

  • Deafness
    • Temporary Deafness: This Persists for about 24 hours after exposure to loud noise.

    • Permanent Deafness: Repeated or continous exposure to noise of around 100 dB results in permanent hearing loss. Even single exposure to noise of 160 dB can lead to rupture of ear drum and permanent deafness.

    In cases of long term exposure to moderatly loud noise, the onset and progress of noise induced deafness is very gradual and by the time the individual is already somewhat deaf, he/she many not be aware of the deafness until the deafness starts affecting the person’s ability to hear normal conversation, telephone rings and doorbells etc.

  • Auditory Fatigue: Noise of 90 dB causes buzzing and whistling in the ears.

Effects on other systems

  • Decreased Work Efficiency: With increasing noise, efficiency of work decreases because of disturbed concentration, annoyance and early onset of fatigue.
  • Increased Intracranial Pressure: (Fluid Pressure of the Cerebro Spinal Fluid, the fluid present inside the cavites of brain and between brain and skull). This leads to Headache, Nausea and Giddiness.

  • Increased Blood Pressure: Noise can very effectively raise the Blood Pressure of even a normal person.

  • Increased Heart Rate, Respiration rate and Sweating.

  • Diminished Night Vision, Colour Perception and visual disturbances.


Dr. Vijay Chouradia, MS (E.N.T.)
Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon
Micro-Surgery Specialist (Mumbai)
UG-08, Royal View, Off Meghdoot Garden
Scheme No. 54, Vijaynagar
Cell: 9301550045
Phone: (0731) 2550044

Dr. Pankaj Tripathi