Cell Phones and Hearing

By: Chris Cuomo, ABC News
By: Chris Cuomo, ABC News

You know the cell phone commercial with the slogan, "Can you hear me now?".

Well that problem may go far beyond a bad connection. A new study suggests the more you talk on your cell phone, the less you may actually be able to hear.

Researchers found that people who used cell phones frequently--at least once a day--have a harder time hearing high frequency sounds, especially in their right ear--the sound of consonants, in particular.

"When we speak, we speak in frequencies--vowels tend to be low and consonants tend to be in high frequency range. If you have high frequency hearing loss then you're not going to hear clearly," explained Dr. Michael Hoffer, with the American Academy of Otolaryngology.

Here's how the hear loss works--tiny hairs in the ear control the ability to hear and excessive noise causes these cells to wear out and eventually die.

Ever since listening devices including the Walkman and iPod burst onto the scene a quarter-century ago, experts say hearing loss has gone up almost 200 percent, and an estimated 30-million baby boomers may be affected.

"The world is a noisy place and people should be cautious of too much noise exposure," Hoffer added.

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