Hearing Health Blog

Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are rarely constant; they seem to appear and vanish, at times for no apparent reason at all. Maybe you’re climbing into bed one night and, apparently without warning, your ears start ringing something fierce. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there aren’t any clear causes for this event: There is no discernible reason why, at 9 PM, ringing is happening, no noisy music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

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 certain foods can make tinnitus worse. In order to stay away from those foods, it’s important to recognize what they are.

Some Foods Which Activate Tinnitus

So let’s get right down to it. You don’t want to experience a food triggered tinnitus event so it’s important to identify which foods can trigger it. Here are some foods to avoid:

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcohol and tobacco should be at the top of the list of things to avoid. You will definitely want to avoid drinking and smoking in order to decrease your risk of a tinnitus flare up’s even though tobacco isn’t really a food.

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


One of the most useful predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. Your tinnitus gets worse when your blood pressure increases. That’s why when you create your list of foods to stay away from, sodium needs to be at the top. Whether you enjoy french fries or just put salt on everything, you’ll want to cut way, way back.

There are certain foods that are shockingly high in sodium, too, including ice cream (which you don’t typically think of as tasting especially salty). You’ll want to watch out for 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 places (even the ones that claim they are a healthier option) serve food that is packed with salt and fat. And, of course, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be negatively impacted by this kind of diet. Fast food outlets also normally serve astonishingly huge beverages, and those drinks are very high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food to avoid.

Sweets And Sugars

We all enjoy candy. Well, maybe not everyone, but most of us. Every once in a while, you’ll encounter someone who genuinely prefers broccoli over candy. No judgment here.

Regrettably, the glucose balance in your body can be significantly disrupted by sugar. And a tiny disturbance of your glucose stability can cause you to have a hard time sleeping. In the quiet of the night, while you lie there awake, it becomes a lot easier to start to hear that ringing.


There is an apparent reason why we saved this one for last. This is the one we’re least happy about needing to eliminate. But having caffeine late in the day, whether from soda, tea, or coffee, can really ruin your sleep cycle. And the less quality sleep you get, the more your tinnitus is likely to flare up.

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 at night and save your caffeine for the morning.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This is definitely not a comprehensive list. You’ll want to speak with your hearing expert about any dietary changes you may need to make. Let’s remember that dietary adjustments impact everyone in a unique way, so in order to keep track of what works and what doesn’t, it may be a good idea to keep a food journal.

Understanding what foods can cause a tinnitus flare up can help you make more intelligent decisions moving ahead. When you start to track what you eat, and what happens to your ears afterward, you might begin to notice patterns, and that can remove some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

Then you will appreciate 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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