If you use a mobile phone and treasure your hearing, you may want to switch off the device for a few minutes every day. Prolonged use of the mobile phone may be associated with an increase in the risk of developing chronic ringing in the ears, according to a study published Monday in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, a BMJ Publishing Group journal. Patients in Austria who used their mobiles for an average of 10 minutes a day were 71% more likely to have the condition.
Some 50 million Americans suffer from ringing, buzzing or other phantom noises in one or both ears, a condition known as tinnitus, according to American Tinnitus Association estimates. There is no cure for the malady, which disrupts sleep and diminishes the ability to work and concentrate.
Because tinnitus affects quality of life and current therapeutic interventions have limited effectiveness, assessment of potential risk factors and their prevention should be a public health priority, wrote Hans-Peter Hutter, a researcher at the Institute of Environmental Health at the University of Vienna, and other authors.
The study suggests that regular use of a mobile phone for at least four years appears to point to a doubling of the risk of developing a chronic form of tinnitus, defined as having symptoms lasting at least three months.