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Is coffee harmful to your hearing?

"by " Albert Stein

As the unofficial home of the silky smooth flat white and a thriving coffee culture, there's no denying that us Aussies are a little caffeine barmy to say the least.

Although your daily espresso may taste delicious and give you a much needed pick-me-up, research has found that drinking coffee can actually impede the recovery of temporary hearing damage.


Caffeine is the most ingested form of psychoactive substance and comes in the form of energy drinks, coffee and tea, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. These drinks are often consumed in noisy environments such as the workplace and recreational areas. With these factors in mind, researchers from McGill University Auditory Sciences Laboratory in Canada set out to discover just how consuming caffeine affects our abilities to recover after being exposed to loud levels of noise.

Researchers used 24 guinea pigs as their subjects, and divided them into three equal groups. The first eight were given 25mg/kg of caffeine daily, group two with acoustic over stimulation events (AOSEs) and the third, both*. 

Could your favorite flat white damage your hearing?

Both groups with AOSEs were exposed to noise levels of 110 decibels (dB) – the equivalent of a live music concert – for one hour. After the first day, they both displayed a similar level of hearing loss. After eight days, the group who had not consumed caffeine had nearly recovered from hearing damage, while the eight guinea pigs who did ingest caffeine were still living with hearing impairments*. Over nine months of testing, scientists discovered that a daily dose of caffeine does impair the recovery of hearing after being exposed to loud levels of noise.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is believed to make up 37 per cent of all hearing loss cases in Australia, which can be preventable*. Here are several ways you can reduce this risk:

  • Wear ear protection – If you're frequently exposed to loud levels of noise – whether that be in the workplace or at social events – you're more likely to damage your hearing. Prevention can be as easy as wearing earplugs. These tiny yet effective devices can reduce noise levels by 15 – 30 decibels!

  • Take breaks – With overexposure to loud noises being the most common cause of NIHL, it's important to take small breaks to give your hearing time off and reduce the time spent in dangerous noise levels.

If you're worried about your hearing abilities, give the team at Audika a call on 1800 340 631 or click here to request your hearing assessment today. 

*The Jama Network, Association of Caffeine and Hearing Recovery After Acoustic Overstimulation Events in a Guinea Pig Model. Accessed December 2017
*Hearnet, The Facts On Hearing Loss. Accessed December 2017