Cutting Caffeine Won’t Quiet Ringing in the Ears
LONDON – If you suffer from ringing in the ears, imbibing caffeine won’t make it worse, and giving up caffeinated beverages won’t make it better, new research from the UK shows.
There’s a widespread belief that kicking caffeine can help ease ringing in the ears, also called tinnitus. In fact, doctors may recommend caffeine restriction for patients with tinnitus, despite the lack of scientific evidence for any benefit.
Given that the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, including headache, nausea, and irritability, are quite similar to those that accompany tinnitus, “it stood to reason that it might actually make things worse, at least in the short term,” said Dr. Lindsay St. Claire of the Centre for Hearing and Balance Studies at the University of Bristol.
Over a 30-day period, half of the study participants kept up their normal caffeine consumption, and then went through a “phased withdrawal” in which the researchers gradually reduced the caffeine content of the beverages study participants drank.
The other half went through this withdrawal first, and then went back to their normal intake.
Study participants didn’t know which group they were in, and
The researchers found that the amount of caffeine a person consumed had no effect on the severity of tinnitus. But people did experience significant caffeine withdrawal symptoms, including headache and nausea.
“There was no way it appeared worth their while to go through (caffeine withdrawal), because there was no improvement in their tinnitus,”
While there is no cure for tinnitus, which becomes more common as people age, there are therapies that can help people cope with the condition,
“There are lots and lots of ways that people with tinnitus can be helped,” she said, “but there’s no sort of magic pill at the moment.”
SOURCE: International Journal of Audiology, January 2010.