The risk of subjective symptoms in mobile phone users in Poland – An epidemiological study

Agata Szyjkowska 1, 2  ,  
Department of Work Physiology and Ergonomics, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, Łódź, Poland
Work Physiology and Ergonomic Department, Nofer Institute of Occupational Medicine, św. Teresy 8, 91-348, Łódź, Poland
Department of Psychological Research Methodology and Statistics, University of Lodz, Łódź, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2014;27(2):293–303
Objectives: To assess the type and incidence of subjective symptoms related to the use of mobile phones in Polish users. Material and Methods: The study was conducted in 2005 using a questionnaire survey. Although it has been quite a long time, up to now, no such data have been published for Poland. The questionnaire consisted of 53 questions concerning sex, age, education, general health, characteristics of a mobile phone (hand-held, loud-speaking unit) as well as the habits associated with its use (frequency and duration of calls, text messages, etc.) and complaints associated with using a mobile phone. Results: As many as 1800 questionnaires were sent. The response was obtained from 587 subjects aged 32.6±11.3 (48.9% women, 51.1% men); the age did not differ significantly between men and women. The subjects owned a cell phone for an average of 3 years. Majority of the respondents used the phone intensively, i.e. daily (74%) or almost daily (20%). Headaches were reported significantly more often by the people who talked frequently and long in comparison with other users (63.2% of the subjects, p = 0.0029), just like the symptoms of fatigue (45%, p = 0.013). Also, the feeling of warmth around the ear and directly to the auricle was reported significantly more frequently by the intensive mobile phone users, compared with other mobile phone users (47.3%, p = 0.00004 vs. 44.6%, p = 0.00063, respectively). Most symptoms appeared during or immediately after a call and disappeared within 2 h after the call. Continuous headache, persisting for longer than 6 h since the end of a call, was reported by 26% of the subjects. Conclusions: Our results show that the mobile phone users may experience subjective symptoms, the intensity of which depends on the intensity of use of mobile phones.