Noise pollution can lead to progressive hearing loss over time

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

About 900 million people are likely to suffer hearing loss by 2050

New Delhi, 4 March 2019: Statistics by the WHO indicate that there are about 466 million people across the world with disabling hearing loss. This number is likely to increase to 900 million by 2050 if no action is taken. The need of the hour is to lay emphasis on early identification and intervention for hearing loss. More than one billion young adults aged between 12 and 35 years are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to higher recreational noise levels. Around one-third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss.

The primary causes of hearing loss have been identified as inherited diseases, infections, continued exposure to loud noise, drugs and aging. Many of these causes leading to hearing loss could be prevented by approaches like immunization and restricted exposure to loud noise. Adopting strategies like immunization would help in effective prevention of hearing loss in children that occur as a result of infections like rubella, meningitis and mumps.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Everyday noise exposure over time has an impact upon our ability to hear and on the degree of hearing loss that develops. Constant exposure to loud noise can cause high frequency sensory neural hearing loss. An exposure of 90 dB (which is equivalent to the noise made by a power lawn mower or passing motorcycle) is allowed for 8 hours, 95 dB for 4 hours, 100 dB only for 2 hours, 105 dB (power mower) for one hour and 130 dB for (live rock music) 20 minutes. Listening to music at 110-120 dB damages the hearing in less than an hour and a half. A short blast of loud noise – greater than 120 to 155 dB – such as from fire crackers can cause severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss, pain, or hyperacusis (pain associated with loud noise). Most unregulated large bombs can produce a noise of more than 125 dB.”

It is recommended that people who are continuously exposed to a noise level of greater than 85 dB should be provided hearing protection in the form of muffs or plugs.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Vedic literature has described four gradations or levels of sound: Para (background noise of nature, no spoken sound), pashyanti (observed sound or perceived in mind), madhyama (audible sound), and vaikhari (articulated sound or spoken words). We should speak in pashyanti and madhyama. Noise shifts the body to sympathetic mode and takes us away from conscious-based decisions. Hence, we should make an effort to speak softly to minimize the ambient noise levels. All of us are now used to mikes in class rooms or lecture halls or DJ music. Instead, ask the audience ‘Am I audible?’ If you are audible without mike, then don’t use a mike.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Traffic flow around areas such as schools and hospitals should be minimized as much as possible. Signboards displaying ‘Silence zone’, ‘No honking’ must be placed near them.
  • Efforts should be made to ban the use of horns with jarring sounds, motorbikes with damaged exhaust pipes, and noisy trucks.
  • The use of loudspeakers in parties and discos, as well as public announcements systems should be checked and discouraged.
  • Noise rules must be stringent and strictly enforced near such silence zones.
  • Planting trees along roads and in residential areas is a good way to reduce noise pollution as they absorb sound.

The Deeper Meaning of Lord Shiva

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Many of us are devout followers of Shiva. But, we worship Him without understanding the deep meaning of Shiva.

In Hindu mythology, Shiva is one of the three forms (trimurtis) of God, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, the Hindu Triumvirate.

The Parmatama or spirit or what is called as God can be classified as a mixture of three forces representing Generator (creator or Brahma), Organizer, (maintainer or Vishnu) and Destroyer (completing or Mahesh or Shiva). These three similar forces come into play in our body to perform any work. They can be denoted as: Idea generation or creation, maintaining or organizing the contents of the idea, and then destroying or completing, so that new work can be undertaken through Ganesha, the Lord of new beginnings.

One must understand and implement the principles of Lord Shiva in day to day life. This can be done by understanding the meaning of the form of Shiva.

Classically, Shiva is worshipped in a sitting meditating pose, sitting on a deer’s skin with  a background of white Himalayas and blue sky (akash). Shiva is also depicted with ashes from graveyard smeared on his body, a snake around his neck, Ganga flowing out of his hair, three eyes, blue neck, trishul in one hand and damru in his other hand.

All these symbolic representations have a deep spiritual meaning and tell us about Shiva’s principles of success.

Of the three eyes of Shiva, the left eye indicates love; the right eye signifies justice and the third eye wisdom or intelligence. To work effectively, one must use both eyes i.e. doing every work with love and justice. Any work done with love and without justice will lead to pampering, and justice without love will lead to rudeness. The third eye should be used in times of difficulty. The message here is: whenever you are in difficulty, use your intelligence and wisdom. The opening of the third eye opening means the disappearance of ignorance (darkness or pralaya).

The half open-eye meditating pose teaches us that in daily life, one should be as calm as if you are in the meditation pose. Being calm or practicing calmness helps in achieving better results.

The snake around the neck represents ego. And, the downward posture of the head of the snake indicates that ego should be directed towards the consciousness and not outwards. The ego should be kept under control and not let it overpower you.

The blue colour symbolizes sin or negative thoughts. Shiva as neelkanth (blue neck) teaches us that one should the negative emotions should never be expressed nor suppressed; instead they should be altered or modified. This indicates that the poison is neither to be drunk nor to be spitted out but to be kept in the throat by making it a part of the life. For example, an episode of anger should neither be expressed nor suppressed. Suppressed anger releases chemicals in the body causing acidity, asthma, angina and diarrhea etc. Expressed anger creates an unhealthy social environment. The only way is to alter or modify the anger by wilful cultivation of opposite positive thoughts in the mind. Therefore, the process of silently passing on love to any individual can take away the angry thoughts from the mind (love is opposite of anger).

The ash on the body of Shiva reminds that everything in the universe is perishable and nothing is going to remain with the poison. The message here is that ‘you have come in this world without anything and will go back without anything, then why worry’.

The trishul in one hand represents control of three factors i.e. mind, intellect and ego. It also represents controlling the three mental gunas i.e. sattva, rajas and tamas.

The damru, the hollow structure represents ‘taking all your ego and desires out of the body’.

The blue Akash represents vastness and openness; the white mountains represent purity and truthfulness.

It is customary to fast on Shivaratri. Fasting does not simply mean missing a meal or not eating that day; it also means fasting or abstaining from all negativities “see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil”. Fasting also indicates controlling the desires for eating foods (like fermented, sweet, sour and salt) and controlling the negative thoughts both in the mind as well as in action.

By adopting these principles, one will attain a free flow of knowledge, which is represented by the Ganga coming out of the hairs of the Lord Shiva. The matted hairs of Shiva represent tapas and signify that nothing in the universe is impossible without contemplation and repeated practice.

If one follows Shiva’s principles in everyday life, one will find no obstacles in routine life as well as in the spiritual journey.

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA