Author: Hanni Yang
Editors: Angela Pan and Hwi-On Lee
Artist: Susan Wu
When listening to your favorite song or watching your favorite TV show, you can't help but enjoy the audio that rushes into your ears. But how do you feel when your neighbor is reconstructing their house? Do you get annoyed when the sound of ongoing construction grows in volume and intensity? This is an example of noise pollution occurring in real-time, and it affects us so subtly that we don't even realize it.
Noise pollution is an invisible threat to people. Drivers honking their cars in traffic, a group of workers drilling the road, and alarming fire drills in schools—all of these are merely a few examples of noise pollution appearing in our daily lives, and it affects people both physically and mentally. Such noises produce headaches, anxiety, and sleep disorders and prevent people from resting. According to the World Health Organization, one can avoid loud activities by choosing alternative means of transportation, such as bicycles or electric vehicles. This can be done by doing chores at recommended times, using sound-absorbing materials to insulate the house and more. But even so, there’s still a high risk of misophonia or hyperacusis, even if there are solutions to reduce noise.
People with misophonia are sensitive to noise, to the point of being bothered by the mere sound of chewing food. According to the data, about twenty percent of the population has misophonia. Scientists have also found that there may be a connection between autism and misophonia since children with autism have difficulties with sensory stimulation, especially loud noises. Even so, there is no objective evidence of a relationship between the two. Since misophonia is a disorder identified recently, no concrete solution is available. Similar to misophonia, hyperacusis is another disorder that causes loud noise sensitivity. Unlike misophonia, however, hyperacusis occurs because of certain diseases and health issues. These include head injuries, autism, Lyme disease, and more. As for treatment, it differs depending on the causes and levels of hyperacusis. Physicians will use auditory integration therapy, which involves listening to music at different volumes for a certain period of time every day, or sound desensitization, where the patient will work with an expert who will help the patient learn to deal with noise by making them listen to a variety of sounds at varying volumes for a certain period of time every day.
Knowing the negative effects of noise pollution, it is better for all communities to reduce loud noises. This is for those who may be suffering from such disorders today.
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