(Women's Health) Four million of us face "damaging" noise every day, from booming concerts to incessant honking road traffic has almost doubled over the past 30 years. Sudden and jarring sounds, such as fire alarms, are the most destructive e because they can spike cortisol and adrenaline levels. That hormonal flood can spark inflammation a contributor to heart disease, anxiety, insomnia, and cancer. But even low-level racket can harm hearing. Here's how to protect yourself and still enjoy modern society and all its sounds:

Beware loud noises
Sound is measured in units called decibels (dB). Anything over 85 dB including fireworks and packed stadiums often c lock in at over 115 dB, and can damage small hairs in the ear that carry sounds to your brain, leading to temporary or permanent hearing loss, depending on how long you're exposed. At 120 dB, that can happen in as little as two minutes. Limit loud sounds, and if you're in a place where you have to shout in order to be heard three feet away, protect your ears. The FDA-approved Happy Ears earplugs reduce noise by 25 dB find them for $12 at

And softer ones too
Low-level environmental noises like light traffic or the hum of kitchen gizmos won't hurt your hearing, but they can make you feel frazzled and disrupt sleep, especially if you're a light snoozer, two factors that up your risk for obesity and heart disease. And the effect is cumulative: The more you're to them, the worse the outcome. Choose quieter options whenever possible for example, use your stove top more than the microwave or minimize sound output by covering the base of blenders and coffee grinders with a dishcloth. Sound-absorbing curtains can block street sounds.

Protect your slumber
Feeling tired is another by-product of too much noise stemming not only from actual sounds that wake us up but also from an inability to shake the stimuli of the day. The ironic solution; Fight noise with noise. A fan or white noise machine can mask traffic or hard-partying neighbors.

Book a tranquil table
The volume in restaurants can be conversation prohibitive at best, agitating at worst. One look at noise levels in popular restaurants found they were close to or exceeded 90 decibels basically as loud as standing three feet from factory machinery which can directly damage hearing over time. Ask for a corner table or one next to a wall, which helps minimize the hubbub.


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