We’ve discussed the effects of caffeine on hearing health in this blog.
Caffeine itself doesn’t appear to have any negative impact on hearing health. But it’s the lack of sleep that caffeine causes which can negatively impact your hearing health, and overall health. Your safest bet is to drink it early in the morning and never after noontime or later.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a stimulant that is naturally found in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa beans. It’s also added to many energy drinks, common cold and allergy medications, and pain relievers. It helps to stimulate your central nervous system, which helps with blood circulation and the ability to concentrate. It also helps us stay alert after a poor night’s rest. Some studies have even suggested that caffeine might lower the risks of certain types of cancer (liver, mouth, and throat), along with type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke.
The impact of Caffeine on Hearing Health
Overall, the average consumption of caffeine (2 cups per day, or less) does not have a serious long-term influence on your hearing health. Blood vessels do become constricted and there is a change in blood pressure levels when caffeine is consumed. Remember, healthy blood flow is important for your hearing health and your overall health. A South Korean study determined there was no connection. They actually found that their test subjects who drank coffee had lower rates of hearing loss compared to those who did not drink coffee.
Caffeine has been shown to possibly exacerbate temporary hearing loss after noise exposure.
Have you ever left a very noisy environment and noticed your hearing abilities were different or muffled? You probably experienced something called, temporary threshold shift (TTS). This indicates that the hair cells found in your inner ears have been exhausted. Remember listening fatigue? Under normal circumstances, your hearing should return to normal in a few days, or sooner. Cutting down, or completely cutting out caffeine until your hearing goes back to normal may help.
Cancer patients should be careful.
If you, or a loved one, are a cancer patient who takes the drug cisplatin, be careful about taking it with caffeine. Cisplatin can cause hearing loss and tinnitus in chemotherapy patients. This is known as cisplatin-induced hearing loss. A study from 2019 showed lab rats that were given caffeine raised the risks of hearing loss. The researchers concluded that there was a possible drug interaction between caffeine and cisplatin for ototoxicity. They suggested that cancer patients should be careful with their caffeine consumption when taking cisplatin.
Caffeine consumption and Tinnitus
According to research, there’s no need to completely stop consuming caffeine if you experience tinnitus. Some patients with tinnitus have reported improvement in their symptoms when they cut down on their caffeine consumption. Official research has not shown that cutting back will lower tinnitus symptoms. One study found lower rates of tinnitus for women who consumed a lot of coffee.
A similar study found that completely abstaining from caffeine was not an effective method of treating tinnitus. The symptoms of withdrawal from caffeine may actually induce distress.
Ménière's disease and its association with Caffeine
Anyone who has Ménière's disease may have been advised to reduce their alcohol, caffeine, and sodium intake to reduce their symptoms. Changes in diet can be beneficial for some people, particularly low sodium diets. There’s still little proof on this subject, especially for caffeine and alcohol consumption.
There is some evidence that caffeine and alcohol consumption can lead to constricted blood vessels - known as vasoconstriction. When the blood vessels become constricted, the blood flow to the ear reduces, which can worsen symptoms. A change in diet is the easier and cheaper option.
But the evidence is not overwhelming. Yes, a simple change in diet is helpful but also getting more effective treatments, like using hearing aids, can reduce the progressive impact of hearing loss.
So remember, if you enjoy coffee, soda, or energy drinks and are in a healthy state, the latest research suggests that you don’t have to stop consuming them (perhaps a limit on them can be beneficial). You can monitor your hearing health and overall health when consuming caffeine and see how you feel when reducing your caffeine intake. Again, only drink it in the morning and not in the afternoon or evening. This will make it very difficult to fall asleep and have a restful night, which can affect your hearing health.
If you or a loved one experiences hearing loss, tinnitus, or Ménière's disease, please get in touch with us at Pure Sound Hearing for a hearing test and consultation.