MountainStar Health - April 15, 2019

Do you spend your weekends playing with loud toys and equipment like snowmobiles and power saws? Invest a few dollars in a box of disposable foam ear plugs! Do you work in a factory, an engine-repair shop or an airport, where ear-protecting headsets are practically part of the dress code? Wear them!

Not only will it (potentially) save your hearing, it could also save your heart.

How noise impacts your heart

High-decibel noise more than doubles your odds for ticker troubles. People who live near an airport get blood pressure spikes whenever a plane flies overhead at night. Roaring traffic has a similar effect.

On the job, constant noise boosts stress hormones and makes your arteries tighten, increasing your risk for chest pain, heart attack, heart disease and high blood pressure, according to a recent study. You're especially vulnerable if you are under 50, you are male, or you smoke.

Types of hearing protection

High-rated foam plugs work just as well as protective headsets if you're only dealing with occasional bursts of noise, and you won't look like a bush pilot bringing in your plane for a landing. Buy foam plugs with a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 33; they'll block out about 15 decibels of noise, on par with headsets.

What about music?

How about a cranked-up MP3 player (you knew this was coming)? Although no one has studied how these technological gadgets affect your heart, an MP3 player can pump out tunes at 105 decibels or more. That's on par with a jackhammer.

So turn it down; it should never be louder than 70 percent if you listen for up to six hours a day. You (and your kids) can still rock out to your favorite bands – just shoot for non-runway volumes.

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