How Does Caffeine Affect Your Hearing?

Your alarm clock chimes, signaling the start of another day. You roll out of bed, and make your way to the kitchen. Almost as though doing it from muscle memory, you begin preparing your morning cup of coffee. “Coffee First” is your philosophy.

Does this sound familiar? A cup of coffee or an energy drink may be part of your daily routine. You may also enjoy other foods and drinks that contain caffeine regularly. If so, you’re not alone. 

Our love affair with caffeine spans centuries. The earliest credible evidence of people drinking coffee dates back to the middle of the 15th century in Yemen. Coffee seeds were first roasted and then brewed in Arabia. The process is very similar to how we brew coffee today. 

Given our long relationship with caffeine, it’s unsurprising to learn that experts have done significant research into it. Studies suggest that caffeine can have many health benefits, including decreasing fatigue and improving mental function. Research is also increasingly showing the impact that caffeine can have on your hearing. 

How Does Caffeine Affect Your Hearing?

Your daily dose of caffeine may help you get through long days. But what you may not realize, is that caffeine may affect your hearing. Researchers at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Quebec found that daily consumption of caffeine can hinder recovery from temporary hearing loss.

Temporary hearing loss is, as the name suggests, a hearing loss that will go away in time. Temporary hearing loss is also known as Temporary Threshold Shift (TTS). It occurs when the delicate hair cells of the inner ear are overworked and become fatigued. Common causes of temporary hearing loss include: 

How Can Caffeine Affect Your Hearing?

Caffeine is a natural stimulant we most commonly associate with coffee and tea. It is also found in chocolate and many energy drinks. Even certain medications, like pain relievers, can contain caffeine. 

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. It can have a number of effects on your body. It has also been shown to have a variety of positive health benefits. Studies have shown that caffeine may reduce risks of

  • Certain cancers
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Parkinson’s Disease

When it comes to your hearing, however, caffeine may not be quite as beneficial. 

According to the research, caffeine from even one cup of coffee can prevent your hearing from returning to normal after temporary hearing loss.  

For a long time, researchers have suspected certain substances hindered the body’s ability to repair hearing. In a study published in April 2016 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, one group of guinea pigs were exposed to 110 decibels (dB) of sound. For reference, this is about the noise level of most concerts. The other two groups were also exposed to 110 dB, as well as the human equivalent of 25 mg of caffeine. This is approximately the average amount of caffeine found in a cup of caffeinated tea or espresso. 

The result of the study found that those who were exposed to sound and caffeine never fully regained their hearing. The researchers suspect that in cases of TTS, combined with caffeine could result in permanent hearing loss. 

How Can You Protect Your Hearing?

While the research may be alarming, it doesn’t mean that you have to give up drinking coffee. There are steps that you can take to protect your hearing. These include:

  • Try limiting your exposure to dangerous noise. If you work in a noisy environment, be mindful of occupational hearing loss. Your employer may be obliged to provide you with protective equipment. Click here to learn more
  • Be mindful of leisure activities where noise is a factor and take steps to minimize your ears’ exposure – for example, wear hearing protection such as earplugs to minimize the decibel level.
  • If you do experience an episode of temporary hearing loss, avoid caffeine until your hearing recovers.
  • Stay on top of your annual hearing assessments. This helps your hearing professional identify changes to your baseline hearing early on.

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If you are due a hearing assessment, please get in touch with our hearing healthcare specialists. To book an appointment, call Regional Hearing and Balance Center at 208-497-3596 or click here to book a complimentary hearing assessment.

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.