If you live in a noise-filled environment (a big city or near an airport or construction), high decibel levels can increase stress and blood pressure, and compromise sleep and heart health.
And for people who are sound-sensitive - those losing their hearing (ironically) or those who are hyperreactive - environmental noise pollution also causes anxiety, anger, even violence and social withdrawal.
The U.S. Census Bureau surveys reveal that noise is people's No. 1 complaint about their neighborhood and the major reason they want to move. We hope city governments come to realize keeping sirens, jackhammers and traffic noise around 70-85 decibels is a quality-of-life issue. But until they do, we've got surprising ways you can protect your ears, health and sanity.
Use sound-blocking headsets and foam earplugs with a noise-reduction rating (NRR) of 33. They block out about 15 decibels. That means the jackhammer across the street emitting 100 decibels will tone down to a bearable 85 - not quiet, but far less destructive.
Try taking lipoic acid (some studies indicate a dose of 600 mg), and ask your doc if you can take two baby aspirin (drink a half-glass of warm water before and after) and vitamin E with mixed tocopherols. They reduce inflammation, protect auditory and other nerves, and reduce damage from stress hormones.
Fit in some active de-stressing. To deal with noise-induced stress, meditate in the morning for five to 10 minutes, and during the day make time for both aerobics (we like walking 10,000 steps daily) and strength training.