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Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are rarely continuous; they seem to appear and disappear, sometimes for no apparent reason at all. Perhaps you’re climbing into bed one night and, apparently out of the blue, your ears begin to ring something fierce. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there are no clear triggers for this event: There is no discernible reason why, at 9 PM, ringing starts happening, no loud music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So possibly the food you ate might be the answer. We don’t usually think about the link between hearing and food, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that tinnitus can be made worse by certain foods. The key for you is knowing what those foods are, so you can steer clear of them.

Which Foods Worsen Tinnitus?

Let’s just dive right in, shall we? You won’t want to go through a food triggered tinnitus event so you need to find out what foods can cause it. Certain foods to avoid may include:


At the top of the list of items to stay away from are tobacco and alcohol. Okay, okay, “tobacco” isn’t necessarily food, but if you want to reduce tinnitus episodes (and the intensity of those episodes), you’ll stay away from smoking and drinking as much as you can.

Both tobacco and alcohol products can have a significant impact on your blood pressure (not to mention your general health). Your tinnitus is progressively more likely to flare up the more you drink and smoke.


One of the most useful predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. When your blood pressure goes up, your tinnitus gets worse. That’s the reason why when you set your list of foods to avoid, sodium should be at the top. You’ll need to significantly decrease your sodium intake whether you use salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are some foods that are shockingly high in sodium, too, such as ice cream (which you don’t usually think of as tasting especially salty). You’ll want to watch out for sodium levels in anything you eat to avoid a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be shocking that you should stay away from fast food if you are avoiding sodium. Even fast food joints that claim to be a more healthy option serve food that is extremely high in fat and sodium. And, again, that’s going to have a big influence on your blood pressure and, therefore, your tinnitus. Let’s not forget the enormous drinks they serve that are very high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food you should avoid.

Sweets And Sugars

We all love candy. Well, maybe not everyone, but the majority of us. There is a very small portion of the population that would actually prefer veggies. We try not to judge.

Unfortunately, sugar can completely throw off the equilibrium of glucose in your body. And as you’re trying to get to sleep at night, a small disruption to that balance can mean a lot of tossing and turning. And the more you toss and turn, the more you start listening for that buzzing and ringing.


So, we saved caffeine for last because, well, it’s a tough one. This is the one we’re least pleased about having to eliminate. But drinking caffeine late in the day, whether from coffee, tea, or soda, can really ruin your sleep cycle. And your tinnitus is more likely to appear if you don’t get quality sleep.

So it’s not actually the caffeine by itself that’s the issue, it’s the lack of sleep. Have your coffee or tea in the morning, and switch to a non-caffeinated beverage before dinner.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Your hearing expert is the ideal place to start regarding the dietary changes you need to make. Let’s remember that dietary adjustments affect everyone differently, so in order to monitor what is working and what isn’t, it may be a good idea to keep a food journal.

Recognizing what foods can trigger a tinnitus episode can help you make more intelligent choices moving ahead. When you begin tracking how your ears respond to different foods, the cause of your tinnitus might become less incomprehensible.

Then you will appreciate if you are going to regret that late cup of coffee.

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