Noise Annoys, It Can Lead To Dementia Too
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Prolonged exposure to noise caused by road and rail traffic adds to the risk of developing dementia, a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) suggests. Dementia is an umbrella term for several diseases affecting memory, other cognitive abilities and behaviour that interfere significantly with a person’s ability to maintain their activities of daily living.

The BMJ study found that a 10-year average exposure to road traffic and railway noise was associated with a higher risk of dementia. It is based on an analysis of long-term exposure to noise from the two sources among the two million adults aged over 60 and living in Denmark between 2004 and 2017 and the identification of new cases of dementia in the country during the period.

India has witnessed rapid urbanisation over the past decade. Doctors say the findings should prompt authorities to plan ways to reduce exposure to noise pollution. According to Dr Ravi Meher, professor of ENT at Maulana Azad Institute of Medical Sciences, there are such previous reports but this one is a large study that is going to stimulate medical professionals to further work on it. “And obviously this study again emphasises on the adverse effect of noise on human health. The National Green Tribunal and government should take note of it and plan ways to decrease noise exposure,” he said.

Dr Kameshwar Prasad, former head of neurology at AIIMS, who is currently the head of Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, Ranchi, said noise pollution was known to be associated with coronary artery disease and diabetes. “The findings of this study are important, though it requires confirmation in population-based large size studies. If confirmed, this can be a potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia,” he stated. Possible explanations for an effect of noise on health include release of stress hormones and sleep disturbance, the BMJ study states.