SMJ Current Issue

Association of mobile phone radiation with fatigue, headache, dizziness, tension and sleep disturbance in Saudi population
  Thamire  Al-Khlaiwit,  Sultane A Meoos

Objectives: The widespread use of mobile phones has been increased over the past decade; they are now an essential part of business, commerce and society. The use of mobile phones can cause health problems. Therefore, the aim of the present study is to investigate the association of using mobile phones with fatigue, headache, dizziness, tension and sleep disturbance in the Saudi population and provide health and social awareness in using these devices.
Methods: This study was conducted in the Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the year 2002 to 2003. In the present study, a total of 437 subjects (55.1% male and 39.9% female) were invited, they have and had been using mobile phones. A questionnaire was distributed regarding detailed history and association of mobile phones with health hazards.
Results: The results of the present study showed an association between the use of mobile phones and health hazards. The overall mean percentage for these clinical findings in all groups were headache (21.6%), sleep disturbance (4.%), tension (3.9%), fatigue (3%) and dizziness (2.4%).
Conclusions: Based on the results of the present study, we conclude that the use of mobile phones is a risk factor for health hazards and suggest that long term or excessive use of mobile phones should be avoided by health promotion activities such as group discussions, public presentations and through electronic and print media sources.

Saudi Medical Journal 2004; Vol.  (6): 732-736


The widespread use of mobile phones has been going sky-high over the past decade and now its use is an essential part of business, commerce and society. The fact that so many people own mobile phones attests to their perceived importance to the general public. The use of mobile phones and related technologies will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. Mobile phones are low power radio devices that transmit and receive radio frequency radiation at frequencies in the microwave range of 900-1800 MHz. Despite repeated horror stories on mobile phones in the media, nearly more than 500 million people worldwide use mobile phones.1 The extensive use of mobile phones has been accompanied by public debate on the possible adverse effects on human health. The concerns relate to the emissions of radio frequency (RF) radiation from the mobile phones and the base stations that receive and transmit the signals. There are 2 direct ways by which health could be affected as a result of exposure to RF radiation. These are thermal (heating) effects caused mainly by holding mobile phones close to the body and also as a result of possible non-thermal effects.2 Mobile phones may cause adverse health problems such as headache, sleep disturbance, impairment of short term memory and more seriously significant increases in the frequency of seizures in epileptic children, brain tumors and high blood pressure amongst users of mobile phones.3 In addition, mobile phones can cause discomfort, lack of concentration, dizziness, worm on ear and burning skin.4 In spite of its effects on different part of the body observed in different countries, its effect in Saudi population has not been reported yet, where mobile phones are excessively used. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the association of the use of mobile phones with fatigue, headache, dizziness, tension and sleep disturbance in Saudi population.P> FONT> FONT>

Methods.B>FONT> FONT>This study was conducted in the Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Khalid University Hospital, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, during the year 2002 to 2003. The sample consisted of 437 volunteer subjects recruited from College of Medicine, King Saud University and also from the different regions of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The sample was predominantly 55.1% male and 39.9% females with age ranging from 18-42 years were participated in this study. P>

A detailed questionnaire was constructed specifically for this study in Arabic language and was also translated into English. The questionnaire was designed so that it could be used in a structured interview context or by self-completion. It assessed general physical characteristics, occupation of the participants, medical history and different questions regarding the type of mobile phones, duration of possessing and their use, numbers and average duration of outgoing and incoming calls. Subjects with known history of anemia, diabetes mellitus, blood pressure, central or peripheral nerve diseases, hearing and vision problems, subject using any medication or computer professionals were excluded from the study. The analysis was primarily descriptive in nature and was performed by using Statistical Package for Social Sciences program for windows. Comparison was carried out on the basis of percentage values between the groups. P>

Results.B>FONT> FONT>Table 1 summarizes the number of participants; the sample was predominantly male 55.1% and 39.9% female with an age range of 18-42 years. The mean age was 23.74 + 0.5 years (mean ± SEM) for males and 26.44 ± 0.64 (mean ± SEM) for females. Table 2 shows the duration of incoming or outgoing calls for respondents as a percentage of total numbers. The call duration wa


From the Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. P>

Received 29th October 2003. Accepted for publication in final form 9th February 2004.P>

Address correspondence and reprint request to: Dr. Thamir Al-Khlaiwi, Department of Physiology (29), College of Medicine, King Saud University, PO Box 2925, Riyadh 11461, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Tel. +966 (1) 4671614. Fax. +966 (1) 4671046. E-mail: or



1. Editorials. The health hazards of mobile phones. Br Med J 2000; 320:1288-1289. P>

2. Hyland GJ. Physics and biology of mobile telephone. Lancet 2000; 25: 1833-1836.P>

3. Michael M, Colin B, Mika K. The health hazards of mobile phones. Br Med J 2000; 320: 1288-1289. P>

4. Sandstrom M, Wilen J, Oftedal G, Hansson MK. Mobile phone use and subjective symptoms. Comparison of symptoms experienced by users of analogue and digital mobile phones. Occup Med 2001; 51: 25-35.P>

5. Eulitz C, Ullsperger P, Freude G, Elbert T. Mobile phones modulate response patterns of human brain activity. Neuro Report 1998; 9: 3229-3232.P>

6. Reiser H, Dimpfel W, Schober F. The influence of electromagnetic fields on human brain activity. Eur J Med Res 1995; 1: 27-32.P>

7. Dutta SK, Subramoniam A, Ghosh B, Parshad R. Microwave radiation-induced calcium ion efflux from human neuroblastoma cells in culture. Bioelectromagnetics 1984; 5: 71-78.P>

8. Frey AH. Electromagnetic field interactions with biological systems. FASEB J 1993; 7: 272-281.P>

9. Salford LG, Brun A, Sturesson K, Eberhardt JL, Persson BR. Permeability of the blood-brain barrier induced by 915 MHz electromagnetic radiation, continuous wave and modulated at 8, 16, 50, and 200 Hz. Microsc Res Tech 1994; 27: 535-542.P>

10. Youbicier-Simo BJ, Boudard F, Cabaner C, Bastide M. Biological effects of continuous exposure of embryos and young chickens to electromagnetic fields emitted by video display units. Bioelectromagnetics1997; 18: 514-523.P>

11. Becker RO, Marino AA. Electromagnetism and Life. Albany (NY): Suny Press; 1982. P>

12. Frhlich H. Advances in Electronics and Electron. Physics 1980; 53: 85-152. P>

13. Bawin SM, Kaczmarek LK, Adey WR. Effects of modulated VHF fields on the central nervous system. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1975; 247: 74-81.P>

14. Hermann DM, Hossmann KA. Neurological effects of microwave exposure related to mobile communication. J Neurol Sci 1997; 152: 1-14.P>

15. Braune S, Wrocklage C, Raczek J, Gailus T, Lucking CH. Resting blood pressure increase during exposure to a radio-frequency electromagnetic field. Lancet 1998; 351: 1857-1858.P>

16. Hocking B. Preliminary report: symptoms associated with mobile phone use. Occup Med 1998; 48: 357-360. P>

17. Nakamura H, Matsuzaki I, Hatta K, Nobukuni Y, Kambayashi Y, Ogino K. Non-thermal effects of mobile-phone frequency microwaves on utero-placental functions in pregnant rats. Reprod Toxicol 2003; 17: 321-326. P>

18. Hocking B, Westerman R. Neurological changes induced by a mobile phone. Occup Med 2002; 52: 413-415.P>

19. Weinberger Z, Richter ED. Cellular telephones and effects on the brain: the head as an antenna and brain tissue as a radio receiver. Med Hypotheses 2002; 59: 703-705.P>

20. Khudnitskii SS, Moshkarev EA, Fomenko TV. On the evaluation of the influence of cellular phones on their users. Med Tr Prom Ekol 1999; 9: 20-24.P>

21. Mann, K, Roschke, J, Effects of pulsed high-frequency electromagnetic fields on human sleep. Neuropsychobiology 1996; 33: 41-47. P>

22. Schilling CJ. Effects of acute exposure to ultrahigh radiofrequency radiation on three antenna engineers. Occup Environ Med 1997; 54: 281-284. P>

23. Santini R, Seigne M, Bonhomme-Faivre L, Bouffet S, Defrasne E, Sage M. Symptoms reported by mobile cellular telephone users. Pathol Biol 2001; 49: 222-226.P>

24. Hocking B, Westerman R. Neurological abnormalities associated with mobile phones. Occup Med 2000; 50: 366-368.P>

25. Oftedal G, Wilen J, Sandstrom M, Mild KH. Symptoms experienced in connection with mobile phone use. Occup Med 2000; 50: 237-245.

Saudi Medical Journal is copyright under the Berne Convention and the International Copyright Convention. All rights reserved. Saudi Medical Journal is an Open Access journal and articles published are distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (CC BY-NC). Readers may copy, distribute, and display the work for non-commercial purposes with the proper citation of the original work. Electronic ISSN 1658-3175. Print ISSN 0379-5284.