For a long time, it was thought that caffeine contributed to tinnitus risk, but without good data. Now a new study of the connection between caffeine and tinnitus shows that caffeine may actually protect from tinnitus.

Large Study of Nurses

The new study, published in the American Journal of Medicine, used diet data from the Nurse’s Health Study II, in which more than 65,000 nurses reported their diet every four years and their health conditions every two. Researchers identified the number of nurses who said they experienced buzzing, ringing, or other sounds in their ears either a few days a week or daily and looked for associations with caffeine consumption.

Average caffeine consumption was about 242 mg per day, the equivalent of about one and a half cups of coffee, which was the most common source of caffeine consumption. They found that nurses who consumed less than 150 mg of caffeine per day (about one cup of coffee) had a higher risk than those who consumed 450 mg of caffeine per day or more. Those who consumed 450-599 mg of caffeine per day were 15% less likely to report tinnitus, and those who consumed 600 mg of caffeine per day were 21% less likely to report tinnitus.

Limitations of the Study

It’s always important to remember that just because a study like this makes a correlation, it doesn’t necessarily tell us that this is a causal relationship. Researchers did check for risk reduction with decaffeinated coffee to see if the reduction was due to another compound in coffee, but found that reduction was only associated with caffeine intake.

Nonetheless, there are some problems with this type of survey-based research. People may not accurately report consumption or tinnitus symptoms, for example.

And we still don’t know what the possible mechanism for the risk reduction is. With a condition as mysterious as tinnitus, we’re not likely to know that in the near future, either.

Caffeine and TMJ

But what about people whose tinnitus is caused by TMJ? Should they avoid caffeine?

As with tinnitus, it has long been assumed that caffeine will make TMJ worse, because you’re more likely to clench your jaws in stress, putting you at risk for damage to the jaw joint, teeth, and more. However, there haven’t been good studies. Caffeine can also contribute to headaches.

This is a place where you have to take an active role and figure out the effect of caffeine on your TMJ. Keep track of how much you’re consuming and what symptoms you experience. If you think caffeine is contributing to your TMJ symptoms, try reducing or eliminating coffee.

But the best way to get a handle on the causes of your TMJ and control symptoms like tinnitus is to schedule an appointment with a Denver TMJ dentist at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado. Please call 303-691-0267 today for your appointment.