back to article Mobile phones cause tinnitus, says study

A study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine claims evidence that mobile phones cause tinnitus, persistent ringing in the ears. The premise is that microwave radiation (or "radio waves" as we sometimes call them) cause a calcium imbalance, or something like that – the study doesn't present evidence of the …


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  1. EvilGav 1

    Research concludes . . .

    . . . need more research. More at 11.

    Very light on facts here - how many non-phone users suffer tinitus ? how many (as the article suggests) phone users listen to a personal stereo at excessive volume ? etc etc

  2. Damo

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.


  3. Citizen Kaned

    i used to have tinitus

    possibly from DJing or playing pc games with headphones on.

    its pretty easy to sort out. go see the ENT people at the hospital and they give you a little hearing aid type thing. you just adjust the volume of white noise (what it picks up) so that you can just hear it. wear that a couple of hours a day (night and AM) and it will soon vanish.

    its such a nightmare - especially at night when trying to sleep as all you can here is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If only it was that easy

      A former colleague has tinnitus. He described it as loud enough to hear over road noise etc while driving his car at 60.

      A hearing aid type device manages but has not removed his tinnitus.

      I have tinnitus. ENT in my case, and it's their usual treatment, is to explain what causes it and advise on things that may make it seem worse in order that you can modify your perception of it such that it no longer bothers you.

      My colleague probably developed his from years working with noisy pumps in a research environment.

      I got mine after a cold in the head damaged my hearing on one side to the extent that I lost some of the upper frequencies.

      Whatever cause it, I can say with some feeling that its one of the things you want to avoid getting.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Did you get that done on the NHS? I've had the condition since I was a kid (after getting Mumps, so I'm told) and it often drives me bonkers....

      ... Mind you, when I was a kid, I thought it was because I had a computer in my head cox it sounded all electronic :(

    3. John Angelico
      IT Angle

      Yes, well

      I have had my personal white noise service in my ears since I don't know when.

      Certainly before that term was invented AND before mobile phones were even a gleam in James Bond's eye!

  4. Lottie


    I was sure that research tended to be a little more.... thorough.

    It seems like a case of "mobile phone makes radiowaves...stuff happens, it may be from something we can only speculate over.... some people have a condition that may or may not be something to do with what we were looking at.... wheres my grant?"

  5. Code Monkey

    "The sample size is terribly small of course"

    Glad you pointed that out. Another half-assed survey masquerading as research.

  6. Ben Rosenthal

    goes to show....

    ....that if you go out to prove something and don't have to show any evidence or do too much real research, you probably will.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Dodgy science

    "does find 33 people who got tinnitus on the same side of their head as they used a mobile phone."

    This of course has nothing to do with people having their speaker cranked up to the max BECAUSE THEY'RE ON THE TRAIN ... YES .. ON THE TRAIN ... YES ... TAKING A CALL YES ... VERY IMPORTANT YES ... CAN YOU SPEAK LOUDER, ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE STARING AT ME

    I for one welcome our new statistical analysis overlords and wonder if they will join forces with the Climate Change Church, who are equally good at reading Dire Threats To Mankind from epirical studies.


  8. Phillip Bicknell

    And MRI scanners

    I now have fairly constant tinnitus after having a second MRI scan, this time for an injured hand. The tinnitus only started intermittently after the first scan a few years ago to try and determine the reason for my hearing loss at age 40!

    I'm gonna have to go to the doc sometime soon as the ringing is slowly driving me nutty. And I'll bet a pound to pinch of **** that the entire medical profession closes ranks and denies MRI is responsible.

    And in relation to this story - the tinnitus is in both ears and I only rarely use my right ear with any phone, including my mobile.

  9. Mike Hanna


    They spoke to 100 people who had tinnitus. 33% had it in the same ear they hold their phone to, and 25% in the other ear

    WTF does that prove?

    42% of people who have tinnitus don't have mobile phones? I don't believe for a minute that 42% of anyone doesn't have a mobile phone. Old people maybe at a push, and all those old duffers were probably deafened in the Blitz or something, or on Operation Market Garden, or listening to Elvis / Beatles kranked right up.

    Of those people who had tinnitus, 100% all took a breath, on average, once every six seconds or so. Therefore breathing is what caused it. Ban all breathing and tinnitus will no longer be a problem. I am especially afraid second-hand breathing, so ban everyone from doing it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Professor Clue

    "The premise is that microwave radiation (or "radio waves" as we sometimes call them) cause a calcium imbalance"

    say whaaaaaaat?

    Mobile phones are common, tinnitus is also fairly common. I don't think it'd be much of a stretch to find 33 people with both. Have a quick survey at the pub and you'd probably be half way there.

    Also, what the hell is a calcium imbalance and how on earth does it relate to microwaves?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Laugh Now, Cry Later

    I currently have two hums. One is astral bells, harmless, natural, it's High Frequency, non-annoying, I was born with it, and I accepted it all my life, it doesn't bug me.

    But in the last few years, (I guess five years?) and I am 47 now, I started hearing what sounds like diesel engines idling. Sometimes it's louder in the center of a room, or near the walls, but the interesting thing is the moment I pop my head out the door it decreases big time. Like hitting the mute button. I started out like most do when they find they hear this noise, they search everything, and start going through all electronics, re-refrigerator, alarm, stove, HVAC, etc.

    Being a ham / radio tweak, I also did some spectrum scanning, but this sound is very LOW frequency, and so if it's a harmonic of some part of the spectrum floor, I am not seeing it. I have also done the disconnect on the entire power supply to the home. Result: humming still

    It starts and stops at different times, with different patterns and different attenuation (volume level, except there's no volume level for your head!)

    After several years of analyzing this problem, I now can hear it outdoors as well, although FAINT and you have to know what you listening for.

    The sound, the closest I could find was the TAOS HUM. Lots of tarded doctors always want to say you have tinnus and once you say yes, you'll be medicated. Fuck that, that's a dead end road. So I've lived with it, sometimes it's hell on Earth. Sometimes I mask it with radio, or fans. But all in all it takes it's toll on you. Sometimes it can make your heart palpitate, sometimes it's louder than any audio device you have.

    If it is some kind of electronic warfare, we are fucked. because even though you can't hear it it does screw with you physically over time.

    If it's a gravity way, we are screwed. How you going to block gravity? If I could do that I would leave the planet, rich after selling my patent to NASA.

    Some say it's sound waves by people who don't like what you say politically. Becoming a TI or targeted individual, to be electronically harassed, and tortured. If it was a few years ago I would have thought you were nuts, but now that torture is legal, and the constitution is gone, it's really not that far fetched.

    One thing for sure if I catch someone doing it, it will be their end, I be damned and pay the cost to my own life for ending theirs. But they have to actually be caught. It can be psychobabble and hearsay. I want to see the device in my hand first.

    If you think this is a joke, your the joke.

    I know it's slightly off topic from mobile phones, which I refuse to use, along with microwave ovens. There's properties to electro-magenetics which you do not know, don't pretend your all knowing, your not.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I find in IT, with exposure to a lot of equipment that emits various frequencies, that exercise is a good way to try and cure tinnitus or forms of aural distress.

      Since I lost weight and exercise a few days a week and cycle to work I no longer have major issues. I still get the odd whine after a gig or continuous loud noise, but for the most part it's vastly better.


    2. muunkey

      you have the

      same noises as me..its your blood

    3. muunkey



  12. Si 1

    Holding the phone to one side of your head

    Am I the only one that shifts the phone from ear to ear during a conversation? I tend to switch all the time.

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I Hate Terry Wogan

    My Tinnitus was never a real problem for me until I heard Terry Wogan say that you should never listen to it because if you do, it'll get worse.

    Of course, the first thing you do when someone tells you not to listen to something is...

    1. muunkey
      Gates Horns




  14. Cameron Colley

    Erm, couldn't it be caused by sound?

    I may be being Mr Thicky here but couldn't this be caused by having a phone hissing in your ear for a good part of each day? That, and a possible change of blood flow due to pressing your phone to your ear too hard, ought to be enough reasons, shouldn't it?

    @pengwyn Sounds like the Ultra Sonics are targeting you... Or, it may be schizophrenia...

  15. Eden

    I have tinitus

    I only really notice it during silence but after my last motorcycle accident it got REALLY bad for a period of a couple of months.

    Thankfully it died back down to it's normal levels before I went postal, it is really REALLY annoying...

  16. Rogerborg

    What's a "Walkman"?

    Is that like an iPod for geezers? Maybe they're deaf because they're reaaaally old. I said: MAYBE THEY'RE DEAF BECAUSE... ah never mind, have a banana.

  17. Graham Wilson

    Who cares. Anyone who uses a mobile phone long enough to get tinnitus deserves it.

    Who cares. Anyone who uses a mobile phone long enough to get tinnitus deserves it.

    Besides, they often catch Death too when they use the dam things whilst driving or walking obliviously across a multilane highway with them glued to their ears.

    Unfortunately, whilst they're in the oblivion state of cell phone addiction we innocent onlookers sometimes undeservedly become victims of their inattention.

  18. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


    More likely caused by FAR TOO LOUD MUSIC with a heave BASS LINE.

    I used have Tinius. Not from Mobile Use but from playing in a band for 10 years. Playing Drums.! Far too many DB for far too long.

    There are days when is it was not so bad.

    There are days when it would drive me mad. So mad I would feel like banging my head against a brock wall.

    This is an invisible condition. Most of us suffer in ringing silence.

    This study is total dog poo. The sample is not statistically valid.

    Yes I do use a mobile. I never hold it up to my ears. This is the only time I wear anything in my ears not apart from noise cancelling headphones on flights.

    Thois of you who have made fun of this disease should be ashamed of themselves.

    I could wish them to get this.condition for themselves but I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

    I am cured now. A wonderful sife effect of getting Leukaemia in my mid 50's.

    Now you decide which is worse eh?

    I raise my glass of Spitfire to those who still suffer.

  19. peter 45

    Causes of tinnitus

    The most common cause of tinnitus is damage to the sensitive hearing nerves inside the inner ear. And one of the causes of damage to the sensititive hearing nerves is prolonged exposure to noise. Source:

    So according to this research a possible cause of tinnitus is the long term clamping of your phone to your ear caused by ....wait for it ....radiation. To repeat the icon. WTF?

    Funny how the exposure to noise was not mentioned at all in this study's known risk factors for tinnitus. You might even think that they deliberatly excluded it from their study. Wonder why? Could it be there is some research budget somewhere crying out for a 'radiation from mobiles' study to throw money at?

  20. Andrew Woodvine

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    I didn't have tinnitus until I read these comments - and now I can't get rid of the sound of ringing out of my head!

  21. Dick Emery


    Yes I love the sound of tinnitus in the morning, afternoon, evening. Every effin' day of the week!

    If they ever come up with a cure I'm all ears!

    As for the study. Meh.

  22. Hollerith 1

    I paid a high-priced Harley Street specialist and this is what I know

    I have tinnitus and it is slowly growing worse. Most tinnitus cannot be cured. CANNOT be cured. It is a combination of actual damage to the ear, plus the auditory areas in your brain deciding that they should be always on.

    I don't use a mobile and now really can't. I have Bose noise-canceling headphones for places with continual low background noise (e.g. airplanes), I wear earplugs at concerts, and stuff my fingers in my ears when a siren goes by to lessen the chance of damage to the ear or further encouragement to the brain.

    To those other tinnitus sufferers who have posted here: I have found that being calm and carrying on helps. I think of my tinnitus as the background radiation of the universe which happens to be audible to me. I like to think if a possible science fiction story where all of us pretend we are listening to the universe's background radiation to keep ourselves sane, and then one day it changes, for all of us, at exactly the same time. Why? That's where the story begins.

  23. Alexander Rogge

    More silly Studies

    It's another "study" that basically doesn't tell you anything substantial and suggests that more "studies" are needed, at large expense, of course. I wonder if the ubiquitous wireless networks can cause medical problems too. I certainly seemed to be having problems with wireless crosstalk interfering with my wireless devices. It was so bad that I changed most everything back to hard- wired devices.

    New story after the news break... "Does the constant exposure to 802.11 wireless transmitters cause cancer? Some say yes, and some say no, while others say that it's only a problem if you sleep or work too close to the transmitter. We'll show you what some people are doing to block wireless signals, while others make fun of the people wearing tinfoil hats."

  24. halms


    anyone planning to stop using mobile phones anytime soon?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      ..But I will eat a cheese sandwich afterwards to offset the calcium loss! :)

  25. Mips
    Jobs Horns

    Yeh but!

    Beethoven had tinnitus. Don't think he had a Nokia though

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