Environmental Noise

Noise is a prominent part of our society and causes significant damage to our ears as well as increasing a risk of cardiovascular diseases. The field of environmental noise works to study what devices create the most noise and how we can reduce that noise to therefore reduce the harm done to humans. An increase in the intensity of a noise is the increase in the energy in its sound waves, and if this energy gets to a certain point it creates damage in the humans ear (70 dB).

There are approximately 40 million people who have hearing loss in America and a fourth of these people are having hearing loss because of noise intensity. The damage is done specifically to the different sized hairs in the concha in the human ear, not allowing them to transmit high and low pressure vibrations to the nervous system through electrical signals. Another proven problem that noise causes is stress by stimulating the autonomous nervous system and the endocrine system.

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There have been studies that prove that increased and constant exposure to loud noise increases the chance of getting cardiovascular diseases such as angina, hypertension (high blood pressure) and strokes. Exposure to noise less than 70 dB does no damage to the human ear and the average conversation occurs at 60 dB. You would expect elderly people to be the only age group to have impaired hearing yet 16% of the 35,151 people surveyed aged 6-18 are impaired in both ears. This is most likely because of the many everyday devices that are above this the 70 dB level.

A bulldozer idling produces 85 dB of sound and although this may not seem very high over 70 dB, studies show that just 8 hours (one day at work) can cause permanent damage. Knowing that, it is shocking to hear that headphones can reach to a level of 100 dB. They can cause permanent damage after just 15 minutes per day. Furthermore, a gunshot can cause immediate damage reaching up to 140-190 dB depending on the type. 60 million Americans own firearms, and the majority do not use the proper headwear.

The constant exposure to these and many other devices listed in the bar graph on the diagrams sheet contribute to the vast amount of people with hearing impairment. So when people are damaged from noise they go to a hospital, yet noise is a very prominent problem in the hospital environment. Susan E. Mazer, Ph. D. , has spent her academic career studying and attempting to improve this fact. She wrote her Ph. D. in hospital and health care at Fielding Graduate University and is the president/CEO of the Healing Health Care Systems Company that she founded.

In 1992 she created a television channel through her company for patients in hospitals called the C. A. R. E Channel (Continuous Ambient Relaxation Environment). It is the only patient 24-relaxation television channel produced yet. The C. A. R. E Channel is to promote relaxation and reduce harmful noise. It consists of relaxing beautiful imagery of nature as well as instrumental accompanying music. It also includes exercise videos specifically designed for hospital settings, to promote healthy living. Furthermore, it has a night program that assists patients to sleep.

Right now this Channel is used by 700 hospitals and residential care facilities in Canada. These hospitals have had an increase in HCAHPS scores, which is a survey done by patients in all hospitals in Canada so that they can rate the hospitals on their care. Mazer has been featured on Good Morning America regarding noise pollution in hospitals, has written and edited countless of papers regarding this topic for places such as the Beryl Institute in 2011, Long Term Living Magazine in 2008 and San Francisco Medicine also in 2008.

She is currently and has been since 1989 a public speaker and has created many programs for nurses and doctors promoting the idea of environmental affects such as noise affecting the health of a patient.

This year Mazer attended and preformed a harp duet with a flute player at Transform 2013 in the Mayo Clinic Center For Innovation to promote relaxing instrumental music in hospital environment and her C. A. R. E channel that includes instrumental relaxing music. She also created a presentation called Curing the Hospital Noise Epidemic, that looks at the physical affects on patients from noise in a hospital environment.

She talks how the amount or intensity of noise can cause the startle reflex. This includes, grimaced expression, increased blood pressure, muscular flexion, increased heart rate, and increased respiratory rate and vasoconstriction, which is the narrowing of blood vessels because the muscle walls of the vessels contract, reducing the blood flow. Also, she states that high noises (above 70dB) can cause altered memory, agitation, less pain tolerance, isolation and sleep deprivation. But not only does she recognize the problems, she identifies the solution.

Mazer tells us how her C. A. R. E Channel creates a relaxing environment and therefore affects in a positive sense the way the patient sees things and how they process the noises they hear. She also suggests some other adjustments for hospitals to minimize the sound pollution such as using plexi-glass instead of walls. She also has a blog that she updated every week or so describing her own speculations of noise in hospital environment. Her latest entry titled Patients, Privacy and Hospital Noise, looks at how humans perceive and use noise.

She makes the point that if we find out how humanity views and interacts with noise we may be able to use it to our advantage. Mazer writes in her entry “we have a love/hate relationship with sound. ” And explains that noise is too commonly used as a negative component of the hospital when in reality patients would not be comfortable if there was no noise at all. If noise is used at the correct intensity and in a relaxing comfortable sense it can actually improve the hospital environment.

In conclusion, noise is a very prominent health risk not only in our every day lives, but in our hospitals as well. As a place in which healing and health is emphasized the comfort of the patient should always be put first. This means reducing the intensity of noise and replaced unnecessary noise with peaceful, relaxing sounds. This will reduce the damage noise can do to the human ear drum as well as reducing it’s ability to increase the chance of cardiovascular diseases. Susan Mazer has achieved this is her invention of the C.

A. R. E channel and the use of this could not only reduce noise pollution but it could also increase the overall patient care in hospitals. References: http://www. euro. who. int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/136466/e94888. pdf http://www. hermanmiller. com/research/research-summaries/sound-practices-noise- control-in-the-healthcare-environment. html http://www. linkedin. com/in/susanmazer http://www. linkedin. com/company/healing-healthcare-systems-inc.? trk=ppro_cprof http://www. healinghealth.

com/susan-mazer-blog/papers-articles/ http://www. theberylinstitute. org/? page=SpeakerMazer http://thenoisecurmudgeon. wordpress. com/2012/08/05/noise-and-hospitals-2/ http://www. medscape. com/viewarticle/554566_3

http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2013/05/130520142745. htm? utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29 http://www. healinghealth. com/patients-privacy-hospital-noise/ http://www. sciencedaily. com/releases/2013/10/131009100602. htm.

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