Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are rarely constant; it appears difficult to identify why and when these sounds happen. Perhaps you’re getting into bed one night and, seemingly out of the blue, your ears begin to ring badly. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there are no clear reasons for this event: no noisy music, no screeching 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 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 particular foods. The secret for you is understanding what those foods are, so you can stay away from them.

Some Foods Which Activate Tinnitus

So let’s get right to it. You don’t want to experience a food related tinnitus episode so it’s important to know which foods can cause it. Here are some foods to stay away from:

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol and tobacco should be at the top of the list of items to avoid. You will definitely want to avoid drinking and smoking so that you can lessen your chance of a tinnitus episode even though tobacco isn’t actually a food.

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


Your blood pressure is one of the leading predictors of tinnitus flare ups. Your tinnitus worsens when your blood pressure increases. That’s the reason why when you create your list of foods to stay away from, sodium should be at the top. Whether you love eating french fries or just put salt on everything, you’ll want to ease up a lot.

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

Fast Food

If you’re avoiding sodium, it should come as no surprise that you should also be avoiding fast food. The majority of fast-food places (even the ones that bill themselves as a healthier choice) serve food that is packed with salt and fat. And, once again, that’s going to have a huge impact on your blood pressure and, consequently, your tinnitus. Fast food restaurants also tend to serve astonishingly huge drinks, and those beverages are mostly sugar. Yes you guessed it, sugar is next on the list.

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 populace that would actually prefer veggies. No judgment from us.

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


There’s an obvious reason why we kept this one for last. This is the one we’re least happy about needing to give up. But using 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 problem, it’s the lack of sleep. Drink your coffee or tea in the morning, and switch to a non-caffeinated beverage before dinner.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. You’ll want to consult your hearing expert about any dietary changes you might need to make. Let’s not forget that dietary modifications affect everyone differently, so it could even be worth maintaining a food journal where you can track what affects you and by how much.

Going ahead you will have an easier time making practical choices if you know how some foods affect you. When you start tracking what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you may start to notice patterns, and that can remove some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

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

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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