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Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are not usually continuous; they seem to appear and vanish, at times for no evident reason at all. Occasionally, it seems like, for no recognizable reason what so ever, your ears just begin buzzing. As you lie in bed, you think back over your day, and there are no clear reasons for this episode: no loud music, no shrieking fire alarms, nothing that would explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to mount a flare-up.

So maybe it’s the food. We don’t normally think about the connection between hearing and food, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that tinnitus can be made worse by some foods. The key for you is identifying what those foods are, so you can stay away from them.

Some Foods Which Activate Tinnitus

Let’s just dive right in, shall we? You don’t want to experience a food triggered tinnitus episode so it’s important to identify which foods can trigger it. Here are some foods to stay away from:


Alcohol and tobacco should be at the top of the list of items to stay clear of. Okay, alright, “tobacco” isn’t necessarily food, but if you want to lessen tinnitus flare up’s (and the severity of those episodes), you’ll abstain from drinking and smoking as much as you can.

Both tobacco and alcohol products can have a significant effect on your blood pressure (not to mention your total health). The more you drink (and smoke), the more likely your tinnitus will be to flare up.


Your blood pressure is one of the leading predictors of tinnitus episodes. When your blood pressure goes up, your tinnitus worsens. That’s why when you make your list of foods to avoid, sodium needs to be at the top. Whether you love eating french fries or just put salt on everything, you’ll want to cut way, way back.

There are certain foods that are surprisingly high in sodium, too, such as ice cream (which you don’t commonly think of as tasting particularly salty). But to prevent 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 restaurants (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 big consequence on your blood pressure and, consequently, your tinnitus. Fast food outlets also usually serve astonishingly huge beverages, and those drinks are mostly sugar. Which brings up the next food you should avoid.

Sugars and Sweets

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

Regrettably, sugar can really throw off the balance of glucose in your body. And as you’re attempting to get to sleep at night, a small disturbance to that balance can mean lots of tossing and turning. In the quiet of the night, while you lie there awake, it becomes much easier to start to hear that ringing.


So, we saved caffeine for last because, well, it’s a tough one. This is the one we’re least pleased about needing to eliminate. But your sleep cycle can be significantly affected if you have any kind of caffeine later in the day. And the less quality sleep you get, the more likely your tinnitus is to flare up.

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

Find out What Works Best For You

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Your hearing specialist is the best place to start regarding the dietary changes you need to undertake. And it’s worth keeping in mind that everybody will be affected in their own way by dietary modifications, so it could even be worth maintaining a food journal where you can keep track of what affects you and by how much.

Moving forward you will have an easier time making practical choices if you understand how some foods affect you. When you begin tracking what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you may begin to note patterns, and that can remove 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.

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.