Is Your Morning Cup Of Coffee Making You Deaf? Drinking Caffeine Contributes To Permanent Hearing Loss, Research Suggests

Caffeine making your deaf?

A new study suggests that your daily cup of Joe may be hindering your body’s ability to heal hearing damage. Just one cup of coffee was determined as a contributing factor in hearing loss if consumed within 72 hours of noise exposure. While a cup of coffee may seem appealing after a long night at a loud concert, the McGill University Health Centre study suggests that a single cup of caffeine may prevent your body from healing the damage done to your ears the night before which could lead to permanent hearing loss.

A McGill University Health Centre press release regarding a study on the relationship between caffeine consumption and hearing loss reveals that a single cup of coffee can hinder your ear’s natural ability to repair short-term hearing loss due to loud noises. The researchers note that hearing loss is a major problem for the general population and that the latest study may have pinpointed one contributing factor to hearing loss in the caffeine loving populace.

Dr. Faisal Zawawi, an Otolaryngologist and member of the McGill Auditory Sciences Laboratory, notes that when a person is exposed to loud noises it can cause temporary short-term hearing loss. Loud noises from construction, concerts, flying in an airplane, or shooting a gun at a firing range can cause the temporary loss of hearing, but that under normal circumstances the body typically is able to repair the loss of hearing within 72 hours. However, Zawawi warned that if the hearing loss is not reversed in the first 72 hours it could become permanent.

“When the ear is exposed to loud noise, it can suffer from a temporary hearing reduction, also called auditory temporary threshold shift. This disorder is usually reversible in the first 72 hours after the exposure, but if symptoms persist, the damage could become permanent.”

Due to findings in previous studies, Zawawi says that the team of researchers had suspected that certain substances may hinder this repair process; therefore, the team set out to determine if one proposed culprit, caffeine, could be contributing to hearing loss. According to the Medical Daily, the researchers tested their hypothesis on female guinea pigs.

To perform the test, 24 female guinea pigs were split into three equal groups with each group being exposed in different levels to caffeine and loud noises.

“Group one was exposed to caffeine; group two was exposed to noise or ‘acoustic overstimulation’; and group three was exposed to both caffeine and overstimulation.”

The groups experiencing “overestimation” were exposed to 110 decibels of sound which is equivalent to the sound level of most concerts. Meanwhile, groups being exposed to caffeine were exposed to the human equivalent of 25 mg of caffeine, which is less than one cup of coffee, a cup of caffeinated tea, or a single shot of espresso.

The researchers found that the guinea pigs subjected to only sound had their full hearing restored by day eight. However, the guinea pigs that were subjected to both caffeine and sound never fully regained their hearing. Therefore, the researchers concluded that caffeine is a likely contributing factor to permanent hearing loss when coupled with temporary hearing loss from exposure to excessively loud noises.

“This research confirms that drinking caffeine after being exposed to loud noises poses more of a risk than benefit when it comes to a person’s hearing. Although, further research is required to understand the effect on humans, the results are promising.”

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this type of hearing loss. First, Zawawi notes that you can always avoid the noise exposure and avoid situations in which your hearing could be placed in danger. Similarly, if the research proves successful, the removal of caffeine from your diet following noise exposure could prevent permanent hearing loss as the body will be more able to repair itself naturally.

Would you give up your morning cup of Joe if it meant saving your hearing in the long-term?

[Image via Shutterstock]