Have you been reading recently all about the miraculous effects of drinking coffee, from preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, to drastically improving physical performance, burning fat and making us smarter?
Now here’s another benefit to coffee drinkers: a new study suggests that drinking four to five cups of coffee a day may protect against tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the medical term for the perception of sound in one or both ears or in the head when no external sound is present. It is often referred to as “ringing in the ears,” although some people hear hissing, roaring, whistling, chirping or clicking. Tinnitus can be intermittent or constant. Some 50 million people in the U.S., are burdened with this disease, which can drive people to suicide.
I have some friends, an elderly couple, who suffer from tinnitus, and I’ve seen how painful it is for them, so much so that they cannot focus on anything while they are plagued by the awful ringing.
I’m sure they’d be willing to try anything that might alleviate their condition.
18-Year Study of 65,000 Women
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston followed more than 65,000 healthy women, ages 30 to 44, over the course of 18 years; their overall finding was that the more caffeine was consumed, the less tinnitus was diagnosed.
The condition was found in 5,289 cases, but these were limited to the women who consumed less than 150 milligrams of caffeine a day (about a cup-and-a-half). In fact, these women were 15 percent more likely to develop tinnitus in comparison to woman who drank 450 to 599 milligrams a day, which is about five cups.
“The reason behind this observed association is unclear,” said Dr. Gary Curhan, study co-author and a physician-researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, in a press release. “We know that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, and previous research has demonstrated that caffeine has a direct effect on the inner ear in both bench science and animal studies.”
5 Cups of Coffee a Day?
But wait a minute: five cups of coffee a day? Really? I’ve tried that when I’ve been operating on just a few hours’ sleep: I end up feeling anxious, unable to concentrate, with my heart beating way too fast, and then I can barely sleep at all the next night.
I double-checked this with the Mayo Clinic. Their website confirms that if you drink four of more cups of coffee a day, you may experience these side effects: insomnia, nervousness, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeat and muscle tremors.
A 2013 study takes this even further by suggesting that people under 55 who drink four or more cups of coffee a day are more likely to die early than others.
As usual, the picture is not black-and-white, since we are all different and react in varying ways to the same stimuli. Just like with other management strategies for tinnitus (there is no known cure for this condition), coffee may not work in the same way or to the same degree for each individual patient.
In any case, more studies are needed in order to understand the correlation between caffeine and tinnitus. Even though researchers were able to observe a significant inverse association between caffeine intake and the incidence of tinnitus among the women they studied, they don’t yet know why coffee seems to reduce the risk of this condition.
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