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Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus symptoms are not usually continuous; they seem to appear and vanish, at times for no discernible reason at all. At times, it seems as if, for no recognizable reason what so ever, your ears just begin buzzing. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there are no clear reasons for this episode: There is no noticeable reason why, at 9 PM, ringing is happening, no loud music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So maybe it’s the food. Usually we don’t connect 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 identify what they are.

Some Foods That Activate Tinnitus

So let’s get right down to it. You won’t want to experience a food related tinnitus event so you need to know what foods can cause it. Here are some foods to stay away from:

Alcoholic Drinks

High on the list of things to avoid are tobacco and alcohol. Okay, alright, “tobacco” isn’t actually food, but if you want to decrease tinnitus flare up’s (and the intensity of those episodes), you’ll steer clear of drinking and smoking as much as possible.

Both tobacco and alcohol products can have a significant effect on your blood pressure (to say nothing of your total health). Your tinnitus is increasingly more likely to flare up the more you drink and smoke.


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

There are many foods that are surprisingly high in sodium, also, like ice cream (which you don’t typically think of as tasting particularly salty). But to avoid any sudden tinnitus episodes you will want to keep your eye on sodium content.

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be surprising that you should avoid fast food if you are avoiding sodium. Most fast-food places (even the ones that claim they are a healthier alternative) serve food that is jam-packed with salt and fat. And, of course, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be negatively impacted by this kind of diet. Let’s not forget the massive drinks they serve which are very high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food you should avoid.

Sweets And Sugars

Candy is something that all of us enjoy. Well, maybe not everyone, but most of us. There is a very small percentage of the public that would actually prefer vegetables. No judgment here.

Regrettably, sugar can really throw off the equilibrium of glucose in your body. And as you’re attempting to get to sleep at night, a little disturbance 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 ringing and buzzing.


There is an obvious reason why we kept this one for last. Giving this one up is a hard pill to swallow. But your sleep cycle can be significantly affected if you have any kind of caffeine late in the day. And your tinnitus is more likely to flare up if you aren’t getting quality sleep.

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

Discover What Works Best For You

This list is certainly not comprehensive. Your hearing expert is the ideal place to start when it comes to the dietary changes you need to undertake. Let’s not forget that dietary changes affect everyone differently, so it could even be worth keeping a food journal where you can keep track of what impacts you and by how much.

Understanding which foods can cause a tinnitus event can help you make better choices moving forward. When you start to track what you eat, and what happens to your ears afterward, you may start to detect patterns, and that can take some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

If you have that evening of coffee, at least you know what you’re in for.