Not all sound enhances health and happiness in the way that music does. In fact, constant exposure to noise over time can impair health far beyond the obvious issue of possible hearing loss. A few years ago, studies found that airport noise increases the risk of stroke. Other studies have found that the type of quiet background buzz we hear in offices can impair cognitive function. Jon Barron discusses new research that has determined that traffic sounds increase heart attack risk, and by a substantial margin.
So, what’s the solution? First, be aware of how much noise exposure you get. If you’re subject to an unusually high level of noise, you might start by getting a white noise machine or sound-canceling headphones. If that doesn’t work, you can try counteracting the effects by playing Bach during the good times. And if none of those things get you any respite, and if the sound is constant and at a level higher than 60 decibels, you just might want to consider packing up and moving on.