Are your ears ringing? Then you might want to take a break from your cell phone.
As cell phone ownership has surged in recent years, so have questions about how extended use may affect health. One new potential impact researchers have discovered? Tinnitus — a little-understood condition that causes distracting ringing, buzzing, humming, or other low-level sounds in the ears.
Ring, Ring . . .
In a recent study, researchers examined a group of people who already had tinnitus, as well as a group of people of a similar age who didn’t. And after doing ear exams and hearing tests and surveying people about their cell habits and history, researchers discovered that the risk of tinnitus was about 71 percent higher among people who used their mobile phones at least 10 minutes a day. The odds of having the condition were also doubled in people who’d been using a cell phone for at least 4 years.(Related: Invest two dollars in these to protect against hearing loss and heart attack.)
It’s one of the first studies on the topic, and much more research is needed to confirm whether cell phones definitely play a role in tinnitusdevelopment. But researchers theorize that exposing the cochlea and auditory pathway to microwave energy for prolonged periods of time might not do our ears any favors. Still, a number of things are believed to contribute to tinnitus, including environmental noise exposure, so it’s not clear how significant cell phone use might be in the grand scheme of things. If you’d like to limit your cell phone use anyway, try a hands-free device or consider a landline for extended calls.(Related: Here are five ways to reduce your risk of hearing loss.)
Do cell phones cause cancer? Find out what the World Health Organization has to say about cell phone radiation and your health.