Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus symptoms are not usually continuous; it seems to be difficult to know when and why these sounds occur. At times, it seems as if, for no recognizable reason at all, your ears just begin buzzing. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there aren’t any clear causes for this episode: 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 generally think about the link between food and hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that tinnitus can be made worse by some foods. The trick for you is knowing what those foods are, so you can stay away from them.

What Foods Make Tinnitus Worse?

Let’s just dive right in, shall we? You would like to find out what foods you should avoid so you can be sure you never have to go through one of those food-produced tinnitus outbreaks again. Here are some foods to stay away from:

Alcoholic Drinks

High on the list of items to stay away from are alcohol and tobacco. You will certainly want to abstain from drinking and smoking in order to lessen your risk 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 (not to mention your overall health). The more you indulge, the more likely your tinnitus will be to flare up.


One of the top predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. When your blood pressure goes up, your tinnitus worsens. That’s the reason why sodium should absolutely be on your list of food foods to stay away from. Whether you love french fries or just put salt on everything, you’ll want to ease up a lot.

There are a few foods that you don’t typically consider high in sodium including ice cream. You’ll want to watch out for sodium levels in anything you eat to avoid a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

If you’re keeping away from sodium, it should come as no surprise that you should also be avoiding fast food. Even fast food joints that claim to be a more healthy option serve food that is extremely high in fat and sodium. And, once again, that’s going to have a huge influence on your blood pressure and, therefore, your tinnitus. Fast food outlets also tend to serve shockingly large drinks, and those beverages are very high in sugar. Which brings up the next food to avoid.

Sugars and Sweets

We all enjoy candy. Well, maybe not everyone, but most of us. There is a very small percentage of the population that would actually prefer veggies. We try not to pass judgment.

Sadly, sugar can completely throw off the equilibrium of glucose in your body. And as you’re trying to go to sleep at night, a little disruption to that balance can mean lots of tossing and turning. And the more you toss and turn, the more you begin to listen for that ringing and buzzing.


There’s an apparent reason why we saved this one for last. Quitting this one is a tough pill to swallow. But having caffeine late in the day, whether from soda, tea, or coffee, can really mess up your sleep cycle. And your tinnitus is more likely to appear if you aren’t getting quality sleep.

So it’s not actually the caffeine per se that’s the issue, it’s the lack of sleep. Have your coffee or tea in the morning, and change to a non-caffeinated beverage before dinner.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This list is certainly not comprehensive. Your hearing expert is the ideal place to start regarding the dietary adjustments you need to make. Let’s remember that dietary modifications impact everyone differently, so in order to keep an eye on what works and what doesn’t, it may be a good idea to keep a food journal.

Recognizing what foods can trigger a tinnitus flare up can help you make smarter choices moving forward. When you start to track what you eat, and what happens to your ears afterward, you may begin to notice patterns, and that can take some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

If you decide on that last cup of coffee, at least you know what you’re dealing with.

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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