A new study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives says that everyday sounds, such as cell phone rings and conversation can affect the rhythm and the rate of your heart.
After monitoring 110 adults' daily heart rate activity and noise exposure, German researchers found that as a person's exposure to noise increased, so did their heart rate.
On the other hand, their heart rate variability (variation in the time interval between heart beats) decreased. But the lesser the variability, the greater the heart attack risk, says the study.
Interestingly enough, when the noises stayed below 65 decibels (safe levels), participants' heart rate still went up. The study also says that there are other factors to consider. For example, the way a person perceives a sound-annoying or pleasant-could influence their psychological reaction.
Prevention advisor, Dr Arun Agarwal, director, ENT Department, Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi, advises the following to keep safe.
Know your limit
The WHO cut-off for safe levels is 85 dB. Normal conversation is between 60-65 dB; the refrigerator hum about 40 dB; heavy traffic, hairdryer, blender is approximately 85 dB; hand drill is around 100 dB.
Habitual exposure to noise above 85 dB will lead to gradual hearing loss in many people. In fact, the 'safe-limit' decreases by half for every 5 point increase in the noise level-your exposure should be limited to 8 hours per day at 90 dB, 4 at 95 dB and so on. Don't expose unprotected ears to noise over 140 dB.
Create a barrier between the noise and your ears wherever possible. Roll up car windows, sound-proof your home with heavy drapes, wear earplugs/earmuffs when you are in a noisy situation.