Caffeine and Balance Tests
McNerney, Coad, and Burkard (2014) report clinicians often request that patients undergoing balance and vestibular tests should refrain from their daily coffee and caffeine intake. However, the evidence suggests discontinuing coffee and other caffeine intake 24 hours prior to the test may not be necessary or beneficial. The authors report their results based on the sensory organization test (SOT), which objectively determines how well an individual maintains their balance across multiple situations, in which different vestibular, visual, or somatosensory information is deprived and/or altered via the NeuroCom SMART Equitest. McNerney, Coad, and Burkard report a statistically significant difference between the caffeine and no-caffeine sessions in condition 5 (eyes closed, platform sway-referenced) and with regard to the total composite score and significant differences were noted for the vestibular and somatosensory preference ratios.
However, in general, the participants performed better during the caffeine session. Despite significant results, the mean differences were small in magnitude, and C5, the composite score and sensory analysis ratios fell within normal limits for all participants during both sessions and therefore, the authors concluded, “The ingestion of caffeine did not produce a clinically significant effect in healthy young control participants....”
Historically, it has been reported (Mayo Clinic, 2014) that caffeine likely has a greater impact on individuals who do not consume it on a daily basis. Felipe et al (2005) evaluated 19 people referred for testing due to a history of vestibular symptoms. They evaluated the effect of caffeine on calorics and oculomotor function. Felipe et al determined caffeine did not impact test results.
For More Information, References, and Recommendations
Felipe L, Simo˜es LC, Gonc¸alves DU, Mancini PC. (2005) Evaluation of the Caffeine Effect in the Vestibular Test. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol 71(6):758–762.
Mayo Clinic. (2014) Caffeine: How much is too much? Accessed July 30, 2014.
McNerney KM, Coad ML, Burkard RF. (2014) The Influence of Caffeine on the Sensory Organization Test. J Am Acad Audiol 25:521–528.