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Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in symptoms of tinnitus; they seem to appear and disappear, at times for no apparent reason at all. Occasionally, it seems as if, for no apparent reason at all, your ears just start buzzing. No matter how much you lie in bed and consider the reason why you’re hearing this buzzing, you can’t come up with any triggers during your day: no noisy music, no shrieking fire alarms, nothing that might explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to mount a flare-up.

So possibly the food you ate might be the answer. We don’t normally think about the connection between food and hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that tinnitus can be made worse by some foods. In order to avoid those foods, you need to find out what they are.

Some Foods That Activate Tinnitus

Let’s just cut right to the chase, shall we? You want to know what foods you should avoid so you can make certain you never have to experience one of those food-produced tinnitus episodes again. Here are some foods to avoid:

Alcoholic Drinks

High on the list of things to stay away from are tobacco and alcohol. You will certainly want to avoid drinking and smoking so that you can decrease your chance of a tinnitus flare up’s even though tobacco isn’t actually a food.

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


One of the top predictors of tinnitus flare-ups is your blood pressure. Your tinnitus gets worse when your blood pressure goes up. That’s why when you make your list of foods to stay away from, sodium needs to be at the top. You’ll need to substantially decrease your sodium consumption whether you use salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are certain foods that are shockingly high in sodium, too, including ice cream (which you don’t typically think of as tasting particularly salty). But to avoid any sudden tinnitus episodes you will need to keep track of sodium content.

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 restaurants (even the ones that claim they are a healthier choice) serve food that is jam-packed with salt and fat. And, of course, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be negatively affected by this kind of diet. Let’s not forget the huge drinks they serve which are extremely high in sugar. Which brings up the next food to avoid.

Sugars and Sweets

We all enjoy candy. Well, maybe not everybody, but the majority of us. There is a very small portion of the populace that would actually prefer vegetables. No judgment here.

Sad to say, the glucose balance in your body can be seriously disrupted by sugar. 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 silence of the night, as you lie there awake, it becomes much easier to start to hear that ringing.


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

It’s actually the lack of sleep, not the caffeine that’s the issue. Switch 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 absolutely not a comprehensive list. You’ll want to consult your hearing professional about any dietary changes you might need to make. Let’s remember that dietary adjustments impact everyone differently, so it might even be worth keeping a food journal where you can keep track of what impacts you and by how much.

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

Then you will recognize if you are going to regret that late cup of coffee.