Hearing sounds that are not supposed to be there? Does what you hear sound like a ringing, clicking, roaring, whooshing, humming? Is it a sound that only you hear when no others her it? Fear not! You may be very well experiencing from tinnitus. In some rare cases, there are even unclear voices or music heard. So, instead of thinking that you are crazy and in need of being admitted into a mental institution, do consult with your primary care provider before you make any rash decisions. The sound you hear called tinnitus can be soft or loud, low or high pitched, and can seem as if it originated from one or both ears. In most cases, tinnitus starts gradually. Tinnitus affects 10-15% of the world’s population, as many as 50 million Americans and those afflicted may also experience:
- Vertigo (a sensation where the room is spinning)
- Poor performance in school or work
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Some may have a degree of hearing loss
- And more.
Although there are many potential causes of tinnitus, the commonest is due to noise exposure especially as the number of concerts and clubs on the rise. Noise exposure that causes tinnitus also affects our veterans who spent years of their life fighting for the country. Other causes of tinnitus can be from:
- Head and neck injuries
- Ototoxic medications
- Emotional stress
- Meniere’s disease
- Brain tumors
- Ear infection
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
It is important to remember that tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying disorder. It is often found to have a higher rate among those who experience depression as well. The treatment of tinnitus depends on the underlying disorder that causes it. Treating the underlying symptom would lead to improvements of the symptoms of tinnitus. Other treatment options include support therapy, talk therapy, sound therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, utilizing hearing aids and tinnitus markers if necessary.
What Is Caffeine And Where Does It Come From?
Found in the most common of beverages such as tea, coffee, and some sodas, it can also be found in chocolate. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and is of the methylxanthine class. It it the world’s most legal, unregulated, and widely consume psychoactive drug. Caffeine is commonly found in the seeds, nuts, and leaves of plants that are primarily found in South East Asia. It is bitter and related to adenine and guanine bases of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). The bitterness in the parts of the plants is its’ defense mechanism against other insects and to prevent the germination of seeds from other plants. In today’s world, beverages such as tea and especially coffee are consumed to relieve drowsiness and enhance performance. This can be done by steeping the by-product of the plant (leaves, seeds, nuts) in water, a process known as infusion. It has been estimated that American adults ingest as much as 164 mg of caffeine on average daily.
The Connection between Caffeine And Tinnitus
If you are looking for an answer to whether caffeine can aggravate your tinnitus, read on! Remember that the first thing to do if you experience tinnitus is to schedule an appointment with your primary care provided to rule out any serious underlying issues. A simple ear examination can determine if there are any foreign objects or excessive wax in the ear that may contribute to tinnitus. The answer is not simply a yes or no, it is not that simple.
Caffeine causing tinnitus
This may be true but the symptom of tinnitus after caffeine ingestion are usually temporary unless there are some underlying conditions. The ingestion of caffeine can increase high blood pressure and therefore lead to tinnitus. This also means that caffeine may not be the only culprit. There are many research that have proven caffeine can potentially aggravate tinnitus. If you notice that caffeine aggravates your tinnitus, it is best to reduce the level of your caffeine intake. For example, researchers in Montreal, Quebec have noticed that those who have fatigued or injured nerve hair cells due to loud noise exposure and concurrently ingesting caffeine can lead to the lowered capability of the body’s ability to restore hearing. The research concluded that caffeine along with injured hair cells of the inner ear can lead to permanent hearing loss.
Caffeine has no role in tinnitus
In 2011, Dr. Lindsay St. Clair and her research team at the Center of Hearing and Balance Studies at the University of Bristol in United Kingdom were able to conclude that there is little to no significance of caffeine on tinnitus. They also recommend that caffeine should not be completely stopped as abrupt caffeine withdrawal can worsen your tinnitus.
Caffeine can improve tinnitus
There are so many schools of thought. In the Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston, researchers have thought that caffeine could help prevent tinnitus! It was a large cohort study that tracked as many as 65,000 women over a duration of 18 years. Published in The American Journal of Medicine in the year 2014, the researchers were able to analyze the data and found that women who drank at least 5 cups of coffee daily had a lowered risk of developing tinnitus compared to their counterparts who ingest 1.5 cups of coffee or less. Throughout the entire duration of the cohort study, as many as 5,289 cases of tinnitus were reported.
Conclusion About Removing Caffeine Consumption
Although there are so many contradictory evidences in literature that could not seem to agree on the role of caffeine in tinnitus, it could probably be best explained that caffeine affects every individual and their tinnitus in different ways. One of the best ways to determine if caffeine is aggravating, plays no part, or helping your tinnitus would be to keep a journal on the caffeine ingested and compare it with how your tinnitus feels that day. It is also important to realize that caffeine may not be the only culprit as other foods or additives have also been proven to contribute to tinnitus. It is imperative that you make an appointment with your primary care physician before embarking on a journey to decrease or increase the intake of caffeine.