March 8, 2019

Can cell phones damage your hearing?

Can cell phones damage your hearing?

Most of us would admit that we can’t go a whole day without our mobile phones. Our phones are like our little lifelines to the world — they allow us to connect instantly with our co-workers, friends and family members. Surely something as seemingly harmless as our phones couldn’t hurt us, right? Unlike many medical myths, the sobering truth is that cell phones can cause hearing damage.

UAMS audiologist Dr. Allison Catlett Woodall says that according to a recent study, cell phone use exceeding 60 minutes per day could result in lasting damage such as high frequency hearing loss. Those with high frequency hearing loss cannot hear sounds ranging from 2,000 to 8,000 Hertz, which can affect the ability to understand speech and discern consonants.

According to the study conducted by the American Academy of Otolaryngology, the electromagnetic waves emitted by the phone caused damage, and this hearing loss is not necessarily caused by the high volume.

However, Dr. Woodall says that there have been many other recent studies that have shown that volume can play a role in hearing damage. These studies have focused on personal listening devices such as iPods and MP3 players, which have been shown to cause a temporary shift in hearing thresholds. With repeated exposure to high volumes of music, this temporary damage can become permanent.

How do you protect yourself from hearing damage caused by cell phones and personal listening devices? Dr. Woodall suggests being wise about the volume of your music and changing the way you talk on the phone.  

“When you are on the phone, using the speaker or hands-free option can reduce the chances of harmful effects to your ears by distancing the sound source from the ear,” Woodall says.

UAMS Audiology Clinic