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Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are not usually continuous; it seems to be difficult to understand when and why these sounds happen. At times, it seems like, for no recognizable reason at all, your ears just begin to buzz. No matter how long you lie in bed and contemplate the reason why you’re hearing this buzzing, you can’t come up with any triggers in your day: 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. Typically 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. The secret for you is identifying what those foods are, so you can steer clear of them.

Some Foods Which Trigger Tinnitus

So let’s get right down to it. You want to recognize which foods you should stay away from so you can make sure you never have to experience one of those food-generated tinnitus outbreaks again. Some foods to stay away from could include:


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

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


Your blood pressure is one of the biggest predictors of tinnitus episodes. Your tinnitus worsens when your blood pressure rises. That’s the reason why when you create your list of foods to avoid, sodium should be at the top. You’ll need to drastically reduce your sodium consumption whether you put salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are certain foods that are surprisingly high in sodium, too, including ice cream (which you don’t typically think of as tasting very salty). You’ll need to keep close track of sodium levels in anything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be shocking that you should stay away from fast food if you are avoiding sodium. The majority of fast-food joints (even the ones that claim they are a healthier alternative) serve food that is loaded with salt and fat. And, clearly, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be adversely affected by this type of diet. Let’s not forget the huge drinks they serve that are extremely 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. From time to time, you’ll come across someone who actually prefers broccoli over chocolate. No judgment from us.

Sadly, sugar can completely throw off the stability of glucose in your body. And as you’re trying to fall asleep at night, a small 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.


So, we saved this one for last because, well, it’s a tough one. This is the one we’re least happy about needing 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 flare up if you don’t get quality sleep.

So it’s not actually the caffeine per se that’s the issue, it’s the lack of sleep. Change over to a drink that doesn’t have caffeine in the evenings and save your caffeine for the morning.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This is certainly not an exhaustive list. Your hearing expert is the ideal place to begin concerning the dietary modifications you need to undertake. Let’s remember that dietary adjustments affect everyone in a different way, so it may even be worth keeping a food journal where you can track what impacts you and by how much.

Being aware of what foods can trigger a tinnitus flare up can help you make smarter choices moving ahead. When you start to track what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you might begin to note patterns, and that can take some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

If you go for that last cup of coffee, at least you know what you’re in for.

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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