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Caffeine - Does it Cause Tinnitus?

Updated on March 6, 2015
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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.


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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
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • 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


Have you ever had tinnitus?

See results

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.


Other Health Related Hubs You Might Find Useful

Click on any of the titles below to learn more!

Caffeine, good or bad for your health? published by K. Cossaboon

Top 3 Health Risks Linked to Sleep Deprivation published by Kris Heeter

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    • profile image

      Wbmoore 5 years ago

      A friend's doctor told him to cut out caffeine. His tinitus went away.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
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      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      Hi Becky - Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found it worthwhile!

    • Becky Bruce profile image

      Becky Bruce 5 years ago from San Diego, CA

      This is so interesting! Thanks for sharing Kris :) By the way... great summary- I couldn't help but click to read.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
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      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @GiftedGrandma - thanks for sharing your experience. It's been enlightening for me to learn that it's more common than I thought. For awhile I felt like I was the rare bird that was stuck with it:)

    • GiftedGrandma profile image

      GiftedGrandma 5 years ago from USA

      I have it and also many of the list above...very annoying when it get louder at times, but leaned to live with it. Very interesting hub.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @badegg - thanks for sharing that.

      Tinnitus is definitely something that should be checked by a doctor at the onset as it can, in some cases, be an indicator of another health issue. Blood pressure, as @badegg mentioned, can be one such health issue!

    • badegg profile image

      Del Banks 5 years ago from Southern Appalachians

      I have issues with Tinnitus, but I use it as a tool to tell me that my blood pressure is high, and to remind me that I need to take my meds (which I often forget to do!).

      Great hub, I voted up!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Your hub is very informative and one that I am glad I read through. I have had periodic ringing but not so noticeable. Usually, I use some earwax remover and it helps. I can see how aging and the loss of cilia would cause tinnitus to increase as you have described. Thanks for sharing.

    • teachertalking1 profile image

      teachertalking1 5 years ago

      Your hub caught my eye as I am a heavy coffee drinker - thankfully I do not have tinnitus. I can't imagine how awful it would be to have constant ringing in my ears; especially when trying to rest. I hope that research is ongoing and a cure is right around the corner so that you and others who suffer can find the comfort of quiet! I will stay alert however, as I don't anticipate my coffee intake to decrease any time soon! Thanks for sharing!

    • Kris Heeter profile image
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      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Vinaya - you are welcome. I'm glad you found it informative!

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      Your observation and experiences are very helpful for the ones who have experienced tinnitus. Thanks for sharing your views. Your article is very informative

    • Kris Heeter profile image
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      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Debbie - thanks for the comments. I, too, have been surprised that it's more common than I thought. I was beginning to feel like I was the only one!

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 5 years ago from Greece

      I have a slight ringing in my ears when it's quiet and as it doesn't really bother me that much I've not looked into it - probably because it's rarely quiet around here!! At night we have either dehumidifiers in the winter or fans running in the summer, so it's not a problem then.

      It is interesting to see that quite a few people are effected by it.

      A good hub, thank you for sharing.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
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      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @StacieL - thanks for stopping by. Definitely sounds like you get a bit of a caffeine buzz after 2 cups. When I did drink caffeinated coffee and drank more than a couple of cups, I would get sort of get slight muscle twitches and an occasionally some ringing too. It always amazes me that some can drink 5-10 cups a day and never feel that.

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 5 years ago

      I have experienced ringing ears after drinking two or more cups of coffee.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
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      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @Melovy - thanks for sharing that website and contributing . I'll have to check the link out. I hope the doc has some answers for you!

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      This hub caught my attention on your profile because I have a cacophony of sounds in my ears. I can say for sure that caffeine is not the cause (of mine at least) as I drink virtually none, and haven’t done for years, and only have small amounts of chocolate.

      Like pmccray, I suspect I went to too many rock concerts in my youth, though one of my noises began after a heavy cold, and could be some sort of blockage - I’m seeing a doctor soon to find out if anything can be done for that particular noise. I can hear my pulse and that’s the only sound I really don’t like. I’m maybe a bit odd because I really don’t like white noise, I’d rather have quiet.

      I listened to a very interesting radio show about tinnitus a while ago, and there is research going on to find a cure.

      Deafness Research UK are currently looking for people to send them unanswered questions about tinnitus to try to get to the bottom of it and find a cure. If you are interested the link is http://www.deafnessresearch.org.uk/ (I can’t see that it would matter where you are in the world if you want to contribute.)

    • Kris Heeter profile image
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      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @pmccray - thanks for stopping by. Like you, at times I find it annoying but for the most part it's become easier to deal with and get used to as time goes by!

    • pmccray profile image

      pmccray 5 years ago from Utah

      As I age it is now a some time annoying problem. At times it seems that for a second the ringing takes on one long ring. I've learned to deal with it.

      I always felt that it was the remnants of my love of loud music as a youth. Thank you for sharing, voted up, marked interesting

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @molemeter - thanks for that very interesting comment and vote.

      The cilia dying can be common as we age and I've heard that it can cause vertigo - they die off and fall deeper into the ear canal which eventually messes with equilibrium. That's very interesting about the pitch change and I can easy see why that would be.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I have this and often it rise's in pitch. I read something years ago, that suggested, that when you hear the sudden high pitch sounds, that means the cilia have died, and you will no longer hear that frequency?

      I live in the country and it is very quiet so I hear it all the time unless I tune it out as you do.

      Interesting hub voted up.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      LORD - you are welcome and I hope you are enjoying your coffee!

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 5 years ago

      Thanks for the share Kris,

      I know for sure I don't have Tinnitus yet, but as anyone else that age, will have to check back on this hub...but great info, don't get me wrong...ops! I need my coffee right now..!

      LORD

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Good info. I have a suggestion look up on the Internet Thomas Coleman he has come up with a system to help Tinnitus sufferers. I just don't know how well the system works but I know it's out there.

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      Here is a way to counter the caffeine . . . pour Bourbon in it.

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      great info. I have it too and never knew it could be from a neck injury. I was in an accident in which I got hit from behind and am still being treated for whiplash...now I know why I have it. thanks!

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @WD Curry 111: LOL, thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the cup o' jo! I miss mine sometimes! :)

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      Give me coffee or give me death! Or, give me both. Thanks for trying.

    • Kris Heeter profile image
      Author

      Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

      @ocenasunsets and @SanneL - thanks for stopping by! Caffeine is one of those good/bad things with positive affects for some health issues and negative affects on others - and a lot of it depends upon genetic background. I had to give up caffeine because just 2 cups of coffee could make by blood pressure rise:( But I'm still OK with tea since it has less - thankfully!

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 5 years ago from Sweden

      I too had a few episodes with tinnitus. Very annoying! Glad that neither coffee or tea has anything to do with it.

      Thank you for sharing this with us and I hope that your tinnitus will be better.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      I have only had periodic episodes with tinnitus, and wouldn't want to have it ongoing. Interesting hub. I am a lover of coffee, and would be very disappointed if I ever came down with something that made me have to stop drinking it. Glad to hear it may not be the cause though, and I find over the years, the many things that caffeine actually helps. Its amazing as they uncover new findings through studies. I hope your tinnitus goes away some day, or minimizes to the point you don't notice it.