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Health effects of noise pollution

Girl covering her ears.

People of all ages, including children, teens, young adults, and older people, can lose hearing because of noises around them. The health effects of noise pollution include:

  • Hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss usually happens slowly, with no pain.  Right after exposure to noise, you may notice some “ringing” in your ears.  You might have trouble hearing people talk.  After several hours or even a few days, these symptoms may go away.  However, when you are exposed to loud noise over and over, you could have hearing loss that lasts forever.
  • Damage to your ears. Loud sounds can hurt or destroy the inner ear’s sensory hair cells. Once hurt, the hair cells do not grow back. Scientists once thought that loud noises damage the hair cells by the pure force of the loud sound vibrations. Recent studies, however, have found that loud noise causes molecules (called free radicals) to kill the hair cells. In either case, the verdict is in: turn down your music and protect your hearing!


Content last reviewed July 20, 2010
Page last updated October 31, 2013