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Is Hearing Loss Caused by Your Cell Phone?

written by Dominic Gomez April 2, 2018
Man listening to headphones that hurt his ears, leading to hearing loss

Recently, Juan Carlos Bagnell sat down with Dr. Alison Grimes. She is the director of Audiology and Newborn Hearing at UCLA to discuss the possible link between hearing loss and your cell phone. Just to be clear, this isn’t confined to just your cell phone.

I currently deal with tinnitus. If you don’t know what tinnitus is, very basically it is a ringing in your ears. It’s not a condition on its own, but a symptom of one of a few underlying conditions – one of which is hearing loss. For me, it’s pretty obvious why I have tinnitus. I constantly listened to loud music on my Walkman when I was younger. Yes, I said Walkman.

Let’s take a look at a few of the questions that were brought up for Dr. Grimes. Keep in mind that her answers are her professional opinion and are in no way an actual diagnosis. These may not be full quotes, and I may paraphrase a bit.

Juan: Do you believe newer technologies such as noise reduction would contribute to a healthier listening experience? Or do you think they are exaserbating the duration at which people are listening?

 

Dr. Grimes: Yes, I think you hit the nail on the head, because we can now stream all our media and phone calls. We can now walk around in an environment where you wouldn’t normally be listening to say just your music.

I would have never thought of it in this context, although it does make perfect sense. Nowadays, people aren’t just listening to music on their headphones. Podcasts, audiobooks, phone calls, music, movies, and games are all very easily accessible. They are more available than they were even 10-15 years ago.

Juan: It’s been my guess that one of the things that might be contributing is the rise of this style of ‘ear pod’ (Apple Air Pods). Which has a powerful driver, but creates no seal around the ear. I would feel this would cause me to turn the music up louder. Would that possibly make the situation worse?

 

Dr. Grimes: I think your theory is very good. Because they (AirPods) go into the ear canal and doesn’t fully seal, that would create the tendency to turn it up louder.

I think this is where my problem was born. Although I didn’t usually wear earbuds at the time, I did have to turn up the volume to drown out any outside noise. The full interview is a very good listen. I think we do keep our headphones on a lot more often than we used to. Previously, it was mostly held to just music. Now, we have a seemingly unlimited source of streaming audio. Do you believe you have suffered hearing loss or other problems due to your cell phone? Give us a shout in the comments!


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