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The Ear - What Annoys You?

Updated on August 13, 2020
Pamela99 profile image

I spent 22 years in the nursing profession, and I enjoy writing about medical issues. I'm also interested in history, genealogy, and travel.

source University of Hartford
source University of Hartford

Vuvuzelas - Most Annoying Sound

There are some sounds that are very annoying to the ear. We are bombarded with a multitude of sounds everyday, from phones ringing, alarm clocks, automobile horns blaring, people yelling, being in restaurants where everyone seems to be talking at once and so forth. I guess we probably all agree that nails on a blackboard is near or at the top of the list, but what other types of noises annoy people and why?

Naturally there have been surveys and studies on what noises are the most annoying to people. It turns out the most annoying sound in the world is the vuvuzelas. If you are like me, you may might not know what it is. It is a long plastic horn popular with South African soccer fans, and the World Cup sparked many debates as the level of noise was intolerable with 127 decibels of sound. Ouch!

Anything with that many decibels will probably give you an earache and may impair your hearing over time. Thousand of these vuvuzelas are blown at the same time, which made it difficult to hear the announcers and the players seem to have trouble hearing themselves think! Check out the video is you want to hear this sound.

Vuvuzela Moment - 2010 Soccor World Cup buildup

England's Salford University Study

An English professor, Trevor Cox, at the Salford University took a year to complete a study rating 37 sounds on his website, They were rated on a scale of irritability.

The results listed fingernail scratching a blackboard again, "babies crying, ubiquitous cell phone ring tones, but the most irritating sound voted on was vomiting. Professor Cox also found that females rated 25 out of 34 sounds more horrible than the males. Babies crying was an exception, as males found the crying worse than the females.

This is a list of his top 10 irritating sounds:

  1. Vomiting
  2. Screeching nails on a blackboard
  3. Donkey braying
  4. Dentist drill
  5. Loud burping
  6. Chewing with the mouth open
  7. Train screeching on tracks
  8. Multiple babies crying
  9. Microphone feedback
  10. Seesaw squeaking


Gawker Poll

Let’s look at some of the sounds people consider annoying. According to National Geographic the three top irritating noises are: nails on a chalkboard, scraping forks and Styrofoam squeaks.

According to a Gaweker these are the top ten annoying sounds:

  1. Someone asking - "Do you mind is I ask you a question?" (I disagree with this)
  2. Fork on a glass
  3. Squeaky chalk on a blackboard
  4. Nails on a bottle
  5. Nails on a blackboard
  6. Female scream
  7. Angle drill
  8. Breaks on a cycle squeaking
  9. Baby crying
  10. Electric drill

Personally I would have to add the Emergency Broadcasting System, Sirens, snoring and cicadas.

The Top 5 most annoying sounds ever!

What Makes These Sounds so Annoying?

If you know a little bit about the anatomy of the ear, you will have the answer to the question. The ear canal is a long tube, which is closed at the eardrum. Research has proven that sounds from 2,000-4,000 hertz are magnified once they are inside the ear drum.

The normal human voice falls in this range. When the ear canal collects the sound of a shrill scrape even in this range the effect can be a piercing reverberation, an actual physical reaction. This type of sound can even cause an increased heart rate and perspiration.

Loud noises can damage the sensitive structures of the ear and cause tinnitus and hearing loss. Sound is actually measured units called decibels. Normal conversation is 65 decibels, while heavy traffic may be 85 decibels. Every increase of 10 decibels means it is 10 times more powerful inside of your ear. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) can occur with a one episode of intense sound.

The sensitive structures are called hair cells, and once they are damaged they do no regenerate. Therefore, it is important to limit your exposure to loud noises, by keeping your distance, not listening to loud noises for a long period of time or wearing ear protective wear. Noise levels can be a big problem in manufacturing plants and, of course, at concerts.

Dumb and Dumber Most annoying sound in the world & Mocking


If you think about your daily life, I am sure you are experiencing more noise then you probably realized. Most noise is unavoidable. I taught my children to use their "inside voices" when they were young as three boys can get quite loud. Then, in the teen years there is the battle to turn down the music, but of course, I blasted music any time I could when I was a teen. Maybe it is a rite of passage. If you want to be annoyed click on the videos on the right.

In your comments I would enjoy reading what you consider the most annoying noises you come into contact with on a regular basis. I mute the TV when certain announcers come on to sell something, as they have loud mouths and the volume seems to magically rise. Last but not least, protect your ears from very loud noises to avoid those hearing aids so many must wear as they age. The ear needs a little TLC.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    11 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Devika,

    I am glad you found this article interesting. Thanks so much for your comments.

  • DDE profile image

    Devika Primić 

    11 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

    The ear is sensitive and you made that clear here. One shouldn't be in noisy places. I found this hub interesting, informative and well-researched.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    14 months ago from Sunny Florida

    Hi Peggy,

    Those are noises that bother me also. I am glad you found the article educational. I appreciate your comments.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    15 months ago from Houston, Texas

    Loud noises also bother me. I had no idea what a vuvuzela was, so thanks for the education. On a daily basis, I guess what annoys me most is loud television commercials. As to other loud noises, a jackhammer is certainly one to avoid hearing for any length of time.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Gus, Funny! Thanks for your comments.

  • GusTheRedneck profile image

    Gustave Kilthau 

    9 years ago from USA

    Hi Pamela99 - Interesting stuff about those "most annoying sounds..." Way back when, someone asked me "What kind of a noise annoys an oyster?" (You have to try to say that as fast as you can...)The answer was also something that you had to say quickly... "A noisy noise annoys an oyster."

    Gus :-)))

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Sunnie, I hadn't thought about women talking baby talk. That drives me crazy also. Thanks for your comments.

    Faith Reaper, I have had a problem with ringing in my ears due to a strong antibiotic which made it worse. I never considered seeing a chiropractor. Thanks for sharing that information. I appreciate your comments.

    prasetio, I am afraid of lightening when it is close but not as much of thunder. I appreciate your comments. Take care.

  • prasetio30 profile image


    9 years ago from malang-indonesia

    The sound of thunder always annoy me. Especially during the rain and the electricity turn off where everything so dark. I really enjoy reading this hub. Voted up and take care!


  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 

    9 years ago from southern USA

    This is a very interesting hub and well written for sure! My sister has developed "ringing in the ears" and it is almost unbearable just to get through one day, as now all other sounds around her make it worse. I have been praying. She has been seeing a chiroprator, which seems to help a little. In His Love, Faith Reaper

  • profile image

    Sunnie Day 

    9 years ago

    Great hub Pam,

    Sirens are my worst..they make my heart jump and chills to my spine...But annoying ones are women who talk baby talk...was a trend for awhile..Uggggggg hahaha

    Thanks for sharing,


  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Movie Master, I hate the loud TV commercials also and often mute them. I appreciate your comments.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 

    9 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi Pamela, I remember those vuvuzelas in the world cup they were just so annoying, we watched with the volume turned down.

    I find TV commercials annoying too, they are so loud and hyped up, we seem to be muting more and more on the TV these days!

    I really enjoyed reading, great information and interesting thank you and voted up!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Sandy, I have had a problem with tinnitus also and it is so annoying. Thanks for your comments.

  • Sandyspider profile image

    Sandy Mertens 

    9 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

    I have always been hyper-sensitive to sounds and have had tinnitus that lasted about a month. Very annoying.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Om Pamapoonya, That is another annoying sound. There are so many when you start thinking about it. Thanks for your comments.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 

    9 years ago

    Interesting hub! I do hate most of those sounds on the Salford University's top 10 list. If it was my personal top 10 list, I would replace donkey braying with the sound of leaf blowers. Every time I see a guy with a leaf blower, I always want to throw a broom at him!

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    RTalloni, That's a good point. I appreciate your comments.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Interesting topic to look at! Annoying sounds be very provoking. A shrill dog barking incessantly and the background noise of a televised football game in the house are probably my top two.

    Now that I think of sounds that annoy though, the sound of lies is in a category all its own, yes?

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    penlady, Thank you for your comments.

  • penlady profile image


    9 years ago from Sacramento, CA

    I really enjoyed this hub! Keep up the good writing.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    BPOP, That would annoy me also. Thanks for your comments.

  • breakfastpop profile image


    9 years ago

    What annoys me is all the hearing aid companies that keep inviting me to a seminar! Up, interesting and useful.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Talluh, I agree with all of those also. Thanks for your comments.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    anginwu, I agree that nails are number 1. Thanks for sharing the things that annoy you. I appreciate your comments.

  • Talullah profile image


    9 years ago from SW France

    Lots of noises annoy me; the loudness of advertisements on the television; engines being revved; dogs constantly barking, and so on! I like peace, especially first thing in the morning when I'm enjoying my first cuppa of the day!

  • anglnwu profile image


    9 years ago

    Yikes, the vuvuzelas--I can imagine when a number of them are sounded at the same time. For me, the nails on the chalkboard is totally annoying. I also find it rather annoying when spoon is scraped against the sides of bowls or plates. Good informational hub and voting it up.

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    Ruby, I don't like that either. Thanks for your comments.

    drbj, I can't imagine anyone liking the dentist drill. I sure don't. I appreciate your comments.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    9 years ago from south Florida

    Well, I learned what a vuvuzela was, Pamela, thanks to you. Here I thought it was a new dance. Who knew? The most annoying sound to me is the sound of the dentist's drill. My imagination usually accentuates it.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Richert 

    9 years ago from Southern Illinois

    What i find most annoying is a person who talks so loud it hurts your ears. I know hard-of-hearing-people do this and i feel for them but still annoying..Interesting hub. Thank's for sharing..

  • Pamela99 profile imageAUTHOR

    Pamela Oglesby 

    9 years ago from Sunny Florida

    fpherj, I don't hear many sirens where I live, but sure do when I'm out. I hate that Emergency Broadcast Warning on TV, and some others noises also. Thanks for your comments.

    teaches, I don't think I could tolerate being in the stands of a soccer game with the vuvuzela. I appreciate your comments.

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    9 years ago

    What a great hub, even thought it talks about annoying noise -- I found it quite interesting and enjoyable listening to the different noises on the video. I agree the chipmunks tend to irritate the ears. And, the 1.Vuvuzela is most annoying. You can hear these when you watch those soccer games. Voted up!

  • fpherj48 profile image


    9 years ago from Carson City

    I guess I must be hyper-sensitive to "sounds," because so many are annoying to me, it's ridiculous. Then again, this could be due to the fact that I relish tranquility so highly.

    The one sound that comes to mind at the moment, that I would be happy to NEVER hear again as long as I live, is the loud, piercing & disturbing sound of SIRENS! Police, fire, EMT....all of them.

    Interesting hub.......UP++


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