Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in tinnitus symptoms; they seem to appear and disappear, at times for no evident reason at all. Perhaps you’re climbing into bed one night and, seemingly out of the blue, your ears start ringing something fierce. No matter how much you lie in bed and contemplate the reason why you hear this buzzing, you can’t identify any triggers in your day: There is no tangible reason why, at 9 PM, ringing starts happening, no loud music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So maybe it’s the food. Generally we don’t link the idea of food with hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that tinnitus can be made worse by some foods. In order to stay away from those foods, it’s important to know what they are.

Which Foods Make Tinnitus Worse?

Let’s just cut right to the chase, shall we? You won’t want to go through a food triggered tinnitus episode so you need to find out which foods can cause it. Here are some foods to avoid:

Alcoholic Drinks

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

Your overall health can be drastically impacted by alcohol and tobacco especially your blood pressure. Your tinnitus is progressively more likely to flare up the more you smoke and drink


Your blood pressure is one of the leading predictors of tinnitus flare ups. When your blood pressure goes up, your tinnitus gets worse. That’s why when you make your list of foods to avoid, sodium should be at the top. You’ll want to substantially decrease your sodium intake whether you use salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are certain foods that you don’t usually consider to be high in sodium such as ice cream. You’ll need to keep an eye on sodium levels in everything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be shocking that you should avoid fast food if you are avoiding sodium. The majority of fast-food places (even the ones that claim they are a healthier choice) serve food that is jam-packed with salt and fat. And, clearly, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be adversely affected by this type of diet. Fast food restaurants also tend to serve shockingly huge drinks, and those drinks are very high in sugar. Yes you guessed it, sugar is next on this list.

Sugars and Sweets

We all love candy. Well, most of us enjoy candy. There is a very small portion of the populace that would actually prefer veggies. We try not to pass judgment.

Unfortunately, sugar can completely throw off the equilibrium of glucose in your body. And a tiny disturbance of your glucose stability can cause you to have a difficult time sleeping. And the more you toss and turn, the more you start listening for that ringing and buzzing.


So, we saved caffeine for last because, well, it’s a tough one. This is the one we’re least happy about needing to give up. But having caffeine late in the day, whether from soda, tea, or coffee, can really mess up your sleep cycle. And the worse your quality of sleep, the more your tinnitus is likely to flare up.

It’s actually the lack of sleep, not the caffeine that’s the issue. Drink your coffee or tea in the morning, and change to a non-caffeinated drink before dinner.

Learn What Works Best For You

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. You’ll want to consult your hearing expert about any dietary modifications you may need to make. And it’s worth bearing in mind that everyone will be affected in their own way by dietary changes, so it could even be worth maintaining a food journal where you can keep track of what impacts you and by how much.

Recognizing what foods can cause a tinnitus flare up can help you make better decisions going ahead. When you start to track what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you might start to detect patterns, and that can remove some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

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

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