Have you heard about coffee’s side effects?

Post on 9th October 2016

Most of us are aware of the dangers of excessive noise to our hearing but a new study has now flagged up another threat – coffee.

Who knew that the caffeine boost which many of us rely on to start our day could have such a down side?

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, discovered that daily consumption of caffeine can prevent hearing from returning to normal after exposure to loud noise.

The bashing our ears take from say a rock concert can cause a temporary loss of hearing or ringing in the ears. This condition, Temporary Threshold Shift or TTS, occurs when the delicate hair cells of the inner ear are overworked and become fatigued. Recovery times vary from a few hours to as many as 72 hours before normal hearing returns.

In the research study two groups of guinea pigs were exposed to loud noises – 110 decibels, an equivalent of the impact from an average concert – for an hour. One group received the human equivalent of 25 mg of caffeine, while the control group did not receive any caffeine. After one day, both groups experienced similar rates of hearing loss.

The guinea pigs exposed only to sound regained their hearing by day eight. Those who were exposed to sound and caffeine never fully regained their hearing. That led the researchers to conclude that caffeine combined with TTS can lead to permanent hearing loss.

The maximum recommended daily intake of caffeine is 3mg – equivalent to three 8 oz (237ml) cups of brewed coffee. Some caffeinated energy drinks contain more than 200 mg of caffeine.

So while you may want to re-think your coffee consumption we don’t believe you need to give it up altogether.

To protect your hearing you would be better advised to avoid areas with prolonged loud noises and to wear protective ear equipment when the need arises. If you do experience TTS it’s worth playing it safe and avoiding caffeine until your hearing returns to normal.

If you have any hearing concerns please seek professional advice. Our experts at your local branch of Scrivens are happy to help.