Hours after they participated in a noisy Ganesh immersion ceremony, the parents of a two-year-old were stunned to know their child has suffered hearing loss. “The parents had taken the child with them to an immersion-day procession where music is played at high decibels. The exposure to the sudden high-level noise damaged the child’s hearing nerve,” said Dr Prashant Kele, ENT consultant, Surana Hospital, Chembur.
Doctors said noisy celebrations are a major source of noise in an urban metropolis such as Mumbai. Vile Parle resident, Dr Parthiv Sanghvi, who is also the secretary of the Indian Medical Association, Maharashtra, recalled the case of a 50-year-old man, who had a heart attack during a party in the neighbourhood. “Every person has latent blockages. If a person is exposed to noise, it can lead to an increase in blood pressure, which in turn activates these latent blockages, leading to a heart attack,” said Sanghvi.
Indirect effects of noise pollution are well-documented, said doctors. Any noise that goes beyond 120 decibels has the potential to damage a person’s hearing capacity. “Though noise is a subjective phenomenon, anything beyond 85 decibels can harm you,” said Sanghvi, who on several occasions has complained to the police against noise pollution in his area.
Experts said not making noise and staying away from sources of noise is the only way to avoid damage. People who develop hearing loss need cochlear implant surgery, which is expensive. “We see many people going to discotheques with some level of hearing loss,” said Dr Sanjay Helale, ENT consultant, Kohinoor Hospital, Kurla.
Exposure to noise pollution, mental health experts said, can lead to an increase stress-related anxiety and sleep disturbances. “A person who has developed hearing loss can also have early presentation of dementia because of sensory deprivation. Noise pollution can indirectly contribute to the onset of depression also, especially prolonged exposure to loud noises for those who commute long hours,” said Dr Deepak Goel, a psychiatrist, who runs a clinic in Worli and Mazgaon.