Caffeine Intake Associated with Lower Incidence of Tinnitus, Study Says

Women with a higher intake of caffeine had a lower incidence of unexplained ear ringing.

Here’s another reason to not be shy about knocking back the whole pot: New research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) found that women who had a higher caffeine intake had a lower rate of tinnitus—described as a ringing or buzzing sound in the ear with no outside source of the sounds.

Published in the August issue of the American Journal of Medicine, the study was a part of the large Nurses’ Health Study II, which followed more than 65,000 women.

According to the study:

Information on self-reported tinnitus and date of onset was obtained from questionnaires returned in 2009, with cases defined as women who reported symptoms “a few days/week” or “daily.” After 18 years of follow up, researchers identified 5,289 cases of reported incident tinnitus.

“We observed a significant inverse association between caffeine intake and the incidence of tinnitus among these women,” said Gary Curhan, MD, senior author of the paper and a physician-researcher at BWH and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Specifically, researchers report:

When compared with women with caffeine intake less than 150 milligrams/day (approximately one and a half 8-ounce cups of coffee), the incidence of reported tinnitus was 15 percent lower among those women who consumed 450 to 599 mg/day of caffeine. The majority of caffeine consumed among the women was from coffee and the results did not vary by age.

“The reason behind this observed association is unclear,” Curhan said regarding the results. “We know that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, and previous research has demonstrated that caffeine has a direct effect on the inner ear in both bench science and animal studies.”

The researchers note, as they do in most studies, that further evidence is needed to make any recommendations about whether the addition of caffeine would improve tinnitus symptoms. So we won’t be seeing caffeine prescriptions for tinnitus anytime soon. But, that said, if you’re suffering from the ailment, perhaps you should order the Venti next time.