Hearing Health Blog

Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in symptoms of tinnitus; they seem to appear and disappear, often for no apparent reason at all. At times, it seems like, for no recognizable reason what so ever, your ears just begin to buzz. No matter how much you lie there and contemplate the reason why you’re hearing this buzzing, you can’t come up with any triggers during your day: no loud music, no shrieking fire alarms, nothing that would explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to mount a flare-up.

So maybe it’s the something you ate. We don’t typically think about the link between hearing and food, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that some foods can make tinnitus worse. In order to steer clear of those foods, you need to identify what they are.

Some Foods That Activate Tinnitus

Let’s just cut right to the chase, shall we? You would like to find out which kind of foods you should steer clear of so you can be sure you never have to experience one of those food-generated tinnitus episodes again. Here are some foods to stay away from:

Alcoholic Drinks

At the top of the list of items to steer clear of are alcohol and tobacco. Alright, alright, “tobacco” isn’t actually food, but if you want to reduce tinnitus flare up’s (and the intensity of those episodes), you’ll abstain from smoking and drinking as much as possible.

Both alcohol and tobacco products can have a significant effect on your blood pressure (to say nothing of your overall health). The more you drink (and smoke), the more likely your tinnitus will be to flare up.


One of the best predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. When your blood pressure rises, your tinnitus becomes worse. That’s the reason sodium should absolutely be on your list of food substances to avoid. Whether you enjoy french fries or just put salt on everything, you’ll want to ease up a lot.

There are many foods that are surprisingly high in sodium, too, such as ice cream (which you don’t normally think of as tasting particularly salty). You’ll want to watch out for sodium levels in everything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be surprising that you should stay away from fast food if you are avoiding sodium. The majority of fast-food places (even the ones that bill themselves as a healthier option) serve food that is packed with salt and fat. And, once again, that’s going to have a substantial impact on your blood pressure and, hence, your tinnitus. Let’s not forget the enormous drinks they serve which are very high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food to 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 public that would actually prefer vegetables. No judgment from us.

Regrettably, sugar can completely throw off the balance of glucose in your body. And a small disruption of your glucose balance can cause you to have a difficult time trying to sleep. In the silence of the night, while you lie there awake, it becomes much easier to start to hear that ringing.


So, we saved caffeine for last because, well, we get it. This is the one we’re least positive about having to give up. But your sleep cycle can be dramatically affected if you have any kind of caffeine late in the day. And the worse your quality of sleep, the more your tinnitus is likely to flare up.

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

Discover What Works Best For You

This is absolutely not a comprehensive list. Your hearing professional is the ideal place to begin when it comes to the dietary modifications you need to make. And it’s worth remembering that everybody will be impacted in their own way by dietary modifications, so it may even be worth keeping a food journal where you can track what impacts you and by how much.

Going ahead you will have an easier time making smart decisions if you recognize how certain foods affect you. When you start to track what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you might begin to notice patterns, and that can remove some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

Then you will know if you are going to be sorry for that late cup of coffee.

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