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Cell phones can cause another kind of ringing

Regular cell phone use may increase the risk of developing persistent ringing in the ear - a condition known as tinnitus.

Cell phones can cause another kind of ringing

Regular cell phone use may increase the risk of developing persistent ringing in the ear - a condition known as tinnitus.

Tinnitus is often described as ringing in the ears. It may also be described as the sound of hissing, escaping air, running water, whistling, buzzing, or humming noise. While tinnitus can be associated with diseases and disorders of the ear, brain of blood vessels, there are few known risk factors for tinnitus. There has been no systematic study to link mobile phone use and tinnitus earlier.

To investigate the association between tinnitus and mobile phone use, researchers studied 100 people of Austria treated for chronic tinnitus and 100 healthy controls. The participants were asked a variety of questions about their cell phone usage.

Based on the participants' responses, it was found that participants who used a cell phone before the first symptoms of tinnitus appeared were 37 percent more likely to develop the condition than those in the control group. Also, people who used their cell phone for at least 10 minutes a day were 71 percent more likely to develop tinnitus as compared to other study participants. Most people in the study used their cell phones on both ears, but tinnitus typically affected one ear - 38 percent of participants mentioned the left ear and about the same percentage said it distressed them most of the time. Twenty-nine percent reported also suffering from vertigo, or dizziness.

Loud noise is the main risk factor for tinnitus. High intensity, long duration of mobile phone use is likely to be associated with occurrence of tinnitus, as a high amount of microwave energy is absorbed by the cochlea in the inner ear during cell phone use, and this might explain the possible connection.

Though this study shows a relationship between tinnitus and cell phone use, a much larger study would be needed to determine whether cell phones really cause tinnitus.
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