Tinnitus can sound like an old-people’s disease—one of those strange conditions that can only happen to an aging body.
Unfortunately, this isn’t so. It’s a disease you can get at any age. According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), it’s estimated that over 50 million Americans experience tinnitus to some degree.
And guess what—increasing numbers of young people are getting it. AND—sorry to report this—tinnitus and cell phones have been linked.
What Exactly is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is hearing sounds in your head that are not produced by an external source. This can be a ringing, hissing, roaring, whistle or buzzing sound—or in some cases, sounds that mimic far off human voices. It can happen in one or both ears and ranges in severity from a mild background noise to a constant disabling disruption of daily function.
Some people hear the disturbing sound even when in a noisy environment; others only hear it when all is quiet, like when they’re trying to go to sleep. And those who are sensitive to non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMFs) also describe various ear sensations—heat, throbbing, pain—along with tinnitus.
While certainly not life-threatening, tinnitus is an annoying, persistent condition that can cause irritability, insomnia, and panic attacks, as well as reducing the ability to hear well.
Traditional Causes of Tinnitus
It’s been found that tinnitus can be caused by many different things. According to the ATA, the number one trigger of tinnitus is exposure to loud noise. Other causes include:
In addition, certain medications can cause or worsen tinnitus, such as antibiotics, cancer medications, water pills, quinine medications, certain antidepressants, and aspirin.
Tinnitus and Cell Phones
Now attention is being given to the possible link between tinnitus and cell phones. A recent study appearing in Occupational and Environmental Medicine involving 100 subjects shows that cell phone use can raise the possibility of developing tinnitus by 71%.
This makes sense, in that when you’re using a cell phone, you generally hold it right up against your ear, exposing your auditory nerve to electromagnetic radiation coming from the phone. It evidently only takes a short ten minute call every day for awhile to trigger tinnitus. And for some in the study, it was enough to also trigger dizziness.
The report revealed that most tinnitus was one-sided. A significant number of test subjects reported that the ringing was distressing “most of the time,” lowering their quality of life.
A percentage of those who had used their cell phones for four years or more reported they had experienced tinnitus before hooking up to the wireless communications grid. That indicates that the onset of tinnitus may have been caused by some other reason. However, it was clear that cell phone use made the problem worse and more noticeable.
Treating and Preventing Tinnitus
If you’re on any of the medications that have been found to cause or worsen tinnitus, it makes sense to see if you can switch to other medications. And if you’re living or working in environments where there are constant loud noises, think about moving or getting other work.
If you’ve had a head or neck injury or you’re suffering from Meniere’s disease or other conditions that may be causing tinnitus, there may not be much you can do to alleviate it, except for certain medications that are being offered by the medical profession. Unfortunately, for many, these medications don’t seem to make much of a difference; and some give uncomfortable side effects.
However, if you’re using your cell phone a lot, you might want to cut down on your calls to see if this will alleviate the severity of your tinnitus. Alternatively, you may wish to try EMF protection on your cell phone. This will prevent the radiation from entering your head—a good thing, anyway, as cell phone radiation has been linked with a number of other diseases, including brain tumors.