Study: More coffee may prevent your ears from ringing

BY Xander Landen  August 10, 2014 at 12:32 PM EDT

Photo by Flickr user Doug88888

Photo by Flickr user Doug88888

Drinking coffee may prevent tinnitus, or chronic ringing of the ears, according to new research from Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston.

Doctors previously thought that people with tinnitus should give up drinking coffee, in fear that caffeine may increase symptoms. But researchers discovered the opposite.

The study, published in the August edition of the American Journal of Medicine, tracked 65,000 women over a period of 18 years and found that those who drank more coffee reduced their odds of developing the condition.

Compared to women who drank one and a half cups of coffee every day, the incidence of reported tinnitus was 15% lower in women who drank five cups per day. Over the 18-year study, 5,289 total cases of tinnitus were reported.

NewsHour science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on the science behind tinnitus and the search for a cure. This report was originally broadcast on Dec. 17, 2013. 

Researchers are still unclear as to exactly how increased caffeine levels affect the condition.

“We know that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, and previous research has demonstrated that caffeine has a direct effect on the inner ear,” the study’s senior author, Dr. Gary Curhan, said in a press release.

Researchers say that more evidence is needed before they can recommend whether or not tinnitus patients should increase their caffeine intake to improve symptoms.

Tinnitus affects 50 million people throughout the U.S.

Read more about the powerful evidence neuroscientists have discovered between certain regions of the brain and tinnitus.