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Too Much Cell Phone Use May Cause Hearing Loss


A lot of people wonder about the impact cell phones might have on their health. And now a new study shows that heavy mobile, or cell, phone use may result in hearing loss. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

As you age, you may find you cannot hear as well as you used to. Some hearing loss is due to overexposure to noise.

And new research shows some of it could be blamed on cell phones. The study shows that people who use cell phones about an hour a day have a harder time hearing high frequency sounds, especially in their right ear where they tend to hold their phones. This is particularly when they are trying to distinguish between the sounds represented by "s" and "f" and "t" and "z".

Dr. Michael Hoffer is a hearing specialist. "When we speak, we speak in frequencies. And, vowels tend to be low. Consonants tend to be in the high frequency range. If you have high frequency hearing loss, you are not going to hear clearly."

What happens is that tiny hairs in the ear control the ability to hear. Too much noise causes these hairs to weaken and eventually die off.

Researchers studied 100 people who used cell phones and compared them with 50 people who did not. The study lasted for 12 months. What the researchers found was the cell phone users had more high frequency hearing loss than those who did not use cell phones.

The study did not cause too much concern among cell phone users.

One man said, "I'd be more concerned about people who use those i-Pods and use those buds in their ear at a really loud volume. I think that would cause a lot more hearing loss than a phone.

Another said, "I'm sorry, to say, I've got bigger things to worry about."

Otolaryngolostists -- doctors who specialize in ear, nose, throat, head and neck health -- say exposure to any loud noise can lead to hearing loss.

Dr. Hoffer adds, "The world is a noisy place and people should be cautious of too much noise exposure."

The authors of the study warn cell phone users to look out for early signs of hearing loss. If your ear feels warm, full or clogged, take a break from the cell phone. If your ears start ringing, that is also a sign of damage to your hearing. The researchers say their study is preliminary and more needs to be done to clearly establish the link.

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