Otolaryngologists Warn Cell Phone Users of High-Frequency Hearing Loss

Could cell phone use be associated with hearing loss? The answer is "yes," according to a study presented at the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation's Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO, which ended yesterday in Washington, D.C. The study found that 100 people who had used mobile phones for more than a year suffered increases in the degree of hearing loss over the span of 12 months. Furthermore, the study also discovered that people who used their phones for more than 60 minutes a day had a worse hearing threshold than those with less use.

High-frequency hearing loss is characterized by the loss of ability to hear consonants such as s, f, t, and z, even though vowels can be heard normally. Consequently, people hear sounds but cannot make out what is being said.

The authors warn users of cell phones to look out for ear symptoms such as ear warmth, ear fullness, and ringing in the ears (tinnitus) as early warning signs that they may have an auditory abnormality. They also suggest the use of earphones, which they found to be safer than holding a mobile phone up to the ears.

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