Caffeine - Does it Cause Tinnitus?
Copyright 2012 - Kris Heeter, Ph.D. (Reposting, copying, or reproducing this article in part or in full elsewhere online or offline is prohibited).
In recent years, I've had this noticeable and annoying slight ringing in my ears. It's really only noticeable if the room I'm in is totally quiet.
I once asked my doctor about it and I was told that it's common and there's nothing much can be done about it...ugh!
That's not exactly what I had hoped for as an answer and I certainly wondered why I had it. I still don't have a complete answer but in the course of looking for answers, I learned a few things.
Does caffeine contribute to ringing in the ears?
It turns out ringing in the ears (aka "tinnitus") becomes more common as we age.
It has been believed that reducing caffeine consumption could reduce tinnitus but a new study suggests that may not be true. Caffeine is found in coffee, black teas and chocolate. Caffeine concentrations are most notable the highest in regular coffee.
Research published in the International Journal of Audiology, 2010, found that caffeine had no effect on tinnitus. Researchers could find no evidence to support the hypothesis that caffeine abstinence could alleviate tinnitus.
Surprisingly, they found that caffeine withdrawal could "add to the burden of tinnitus" - meaning, an abrupt caffeine withdrawal could make tinnitus worse - just something to keep in mind out there for those of you coffee drinkers out there that love the caffeine buzz!
Tinnitus Facts and News
Last updated 7-8-12
It is estimated that fifteen percent of the population suffers from tinnitus (more than 36 million people).
It does not appear to be a inherited disorder in most of those affected.
Insomnia worsens the symptoms.
Currently there is no cure for this disorder.
Researchers from Maastricht, Leuven, Bristol and Cambridge are currently testing a new stepped treatment plan to treat tinnitus. It consists of cognitive behavioral therapy that combines aspects of psychology and audiology.
Other possible causes of tinnitus
It seems that the possible causes of tinnitus are nearly endless.
Just getting old (aging) seems to be one of the leading factors. The Mayo Clinic offers a number of the possible causes:
- Changes in the bones of the middle ear
- Damage by earwax
- Overexposure to loud noises
- Head Injuries
- Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Neck Injuries
- Acoustic Neuroma (benign tumor)
- TMJ problems (temperomandibular joint)
- Certain Medications
- Certain blood vessel disorders, including high blood pressure
Medications known to have tinnitus as a side effect:
- Aspirin (in very large doses)
- Water Pills
- Some antibiotics
- Malaria medications (quinine and chloroquine)
- Some cancer drugs
What can you do to alleviate it?
If you can determine the cause - perhaps a medication or high blood pressure, then talking with your doctor to find alternatives or ways to treat the underlying problem is the best place to start.
In my case, the ear ringing is either age related or it could be attributed to a mild concussion I had in a car accident years ago. I have had to learn how to just "tune it out".
For me, it is most annoying at night in a quiet room as I'm trying to sleep. I finally found that by turning on a fan or an air purifier that created a little bit of background "white" noise, I could tune the ringing out and fall asleep!
If you suffer from tinnitus, let your doctor know and the two of you can explore possible explanations.
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