Tinnitus Risk Decreased as Coffee Consumption Increased

Caffeine associated with reduced tinnitus risk in women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Coffee and caffeine were once suspected to play a part in tinnitus onset. But new research suggests caffeine consumption may reduce the risk of tinnitus.

In a recent study, tinnitus — a ringing or buzzing in the ears that can range from quiet buzzing to roaring — was less common in women who consumed the most caffeine.

"Ask a dietitian about healthy caffeine consumption levels."

The study, led by Gary Curhan, MD, ScD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, looked at more than 65,000 women involved in Nurses' Health Study II. The women were all between 30 and 44 years old.

Most of the participants consumed caffeine by drinking coffee. One cup of coffee has roughly 150 milligrams of caffeine, the study authors noted. Participants consumed 242.3 milligrams of caffeine per day on average.

Within the 18-year study period, 5,289 participants reported getting tinnitus.

Compared with those who drank less than one cup of coffee, or 150 milligrams of caffeine, per day, women who consumed between 450 and 599 milligrams were 15 percent less likely to develop tinnitus. Women who got more than 600 milligrams of caffeine on an average day had a 21 percent reduced risk.

The study authors also tested the effects of decaffeinated coffee on tinnitus.

"We did not find an association between decaffeinated coffee intake and incident tinnitus," they wrote. "This suggests it is caffeine rather than another component of coffee that was associated with a decreased incidence of tinnitus."

The researchers noted that their findings did not prove that caffeine prevented tinnitus, and they did not recommend increasing caffeine intake. The study authors also said the results did not suggest that caffeine would help existing tinnitus cases.

"Given that our investigation evaluated the incidence of tinnitus and not the effect of caffeine among participants with existing tinnitus, we are unable to make a recommendation as to whether the addition of caffeine would improve symptoms," the study authors wrote.

The authors noted that the participants self-reported tinnitus symptoms, which could have affected the findings.

The American Journal of Medicine published this study in its August issue.

Grants from the National Institutes of Health funded the study. The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
August 18, 2014
Last Updated:
August 19, 2014