Noise keeps kids awake at hospital

City Health

Decibel levels have increased in July by 15.8 percent during the day time.

Noise levels recorded at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health (IGICH) in NIMHANS campus, a silent zone, have increased by 15.8 percent during the daytime for July 2022 from June and are no longer within permissible limits, data from Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) shows.

The permissible noise level for a silent zone is 50 decibels (dB) during the day and 40 dB during the night. However, it reached 57.9 dB during the day this July. It has also increased to 71 dB in July from 68 dB in June during the night. This marks a 77.5 per cent increase from permissible limits.

A silent zone, as defined by the KSPCB, is an area comprising not less than 100 meters around hospitals, educational institutions, courts, religious places or any other which is declared as such by the competent authority.

One of the reasons why decibel levels are rising is traffic

A nursing officer at the IGICH said patients’ sleep is disrupted during the day due to the constant drilling, construction and traffic noises around the hospital. This causes patients, who are supposed to rest, to have trouble sleeping. Infants also tend to cry because their sleep is disrupted. A parent, whose 3-year-old has jaundice and is admitted to the hospital, said her daughter is affected by the noise and has trouble sleeping.

The nursing officer added that the hospital staff also gets irritated due to the noise, which hampers concentration and affects mood. They said the patients get some relief from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.

Shoaib Mohammad, a Senior Resident, said younger age groups, particularly those below three years of age, are more susceptible to noise-induced problems due to constant exposure to high decibel levels. He added that sounds between 80 to 130 dB can cause “temporary hearing loss or permanent hearing loss” based on the duration of exposure.

A KSPCB official said noise levels have increased, but they have implemented measures like setting up no-honking zones at metro tunnels and traffic management to control the increasing noise. The official also said he had contacted higher authorities regarding the matter.
Traffic outside NIMHANS contributes to the rising decibel levels in the area, a silent zone

While the noise reaching the patients and the hospital staff is not likely to cause noise-induced hearing loss, Mohammad said hospitals and other noise-sensitive areas “should follow protocols and monitor the sound exposure.” He further said that the increasing decibel levels impact “the patient care and quality of treatment and hence increasing hospital stay.”


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