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Cell Phones May Cause Hearing Loss

But Some Experts Still Not Convinced

Hearing Loss Study continued...

"When we compared high-frequency thresholds (the level at which the sound is first detected) between the one- to two-year [users] and more than four years; there was a significant difference in the thresholds between these two groups," he says.

One- to two-year users had a 16.48 decibel loss in the high-frequency range, he says, while those who used the phones more than four years had a 24.54 decibel loss.

That decrease in hearing over a relatively brief period may not be noticeable to mobile phone users but would be of concern to a hearing expert, says Andy Vermiglio, AuD, a research audiologist at House Ear Institute in Los Angeles.

Mobile phone users who had symptoms such as a warm sensation, fullness in the ears, or ringing were more likely to have the high-frequency hearing loss, Panda also says.

Long-term mobile phone use may result in inner ear damage, Panda speculates. And symptoms such as ear warmth or fullness could be early warning signs of that damage.

Second Opinion

The research is too preliminary to warrant alarm, says Chester Griffiths, MD, chairman of the surgery department at Santa Monica -- UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital and assistant clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles. He was not involved in the study but reviewed the findings for WebMD.

"Based on this study, I would not advise any change at the point, but I would caution people if they have any symptoms to stop using a cell phone or to reduce use."

Cell Phone Industry Responds

Joe Farren, a spokesman for CTIA -- the Wireless Association, the industry organization for the cellular industry, tells WebMD he has not reviewed the new study closely so he can't comment directly on the findings.

But he tells WebMD that previous research has not found a link between cell phone use and harmful health effects.

"There have been numerous studies conducted around the globe that have been peer-reviewed and published in leading scientific journals that show no association between wireless usage and adverse health effects," Farren says.

The subjects in the Indian study used GSM mobile phones. Farren says U.S. mobile phone users have phones that use the GSM platform but also other platforms.

Panda plans to continue his research. Meanwhile, his advice to preserve hearing: "Use cell phones when absolutely necessary.

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