Coffee lovers–beware of this risky habit
With summer comes swimming, camping, grilling outdoors and, for many, concerts and outdoor music festivals. But many concert-goers, concerned with things like selecting a trendy outfit and modes of transportation to a late night show, often don’t consider the dangers a concert may pose. Hearing loss is common during concerts, even outdoor ones, and the danger doesn’t stop when the band exits the stage. In fact, your morning coffee the day after a concert may be linked to prolonged hearing loss, a recent study found.
Researchers at McGill University observed three groups of guinea pigs and their reactions to caffeine, exposure to loud noises, or both. They discovered that a dose of caffeine impaired the guinea pigs’ hearing recovery time after listening to loud noise. In other words, drinking coffee to help perk up after a late night concert may help you recover your energy, but not your hearing.
There are two factors at play: hearing loss and the effects caffeine has on it.
“The most common cause of hearing loss is through noise exposure,” explains Tessa Gilfillan-Jones, an audiologist at Advocate Eureka Hospital in Eureka, Ill. “However, noise-induced hearing loss is completely preventable.”
Concert volumes can cause hearing loss within minutes of exposure, Gilfillan-Jones says. She recommends using “musician’s plugs” or “high-fidelity plugs” to listen at a safer volume, while not interfering with the quality of the music.
However, if you decide to skip the earplugs, skip the coffee, too. “When the ear is exposed to loud noise, it can suffer from a temporary hearing reduction,” said one of the study’s researchers, Dr. Faisal Zawawi, in a press release. “This disorder is usually reversible in the first 72 hours after the exposure, but if symptoms persist, the damage could become permanent.” Caffeine slows down the reversal process, which can contribute to permanent damage, Dr. Zawawi explains.
So when getting ready for a concert, make sure to set aside time to consider how to best protect your ears. And don’t forget, the dangers don’t stop when the concert’s over. Be aware of your caffeine consumption so you can keep enjoying concerts for years to come.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.