Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in symptoms of tinnitus; it seems to be difficult to know when and why these sounds occur. Occasionally, it seems as if, for no evident reason at all, your ears just begin to buzz. No matter how much you lie in bed and think about the reason why you’re hearing this buzzing, you can’t think of any triggers during your day: no noisy music, no screeching fire alarms, nothing that could explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to flare up.

So maybe it’s the food. Normally we don’t connect the idea of food with hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that some foods can make tinnitus worse. In order to avoid those foods, it’s important to find out what they are.

Some Foods That Activate Tinnitus

So let’s get right down to it. You don’t want to go through a food related tinnitus episode so you need to recognize which foods can trigger it. Some foods to stay away from could include:

Alcoholic Drinks

Alcohol and tobacco should be high on the list of things to avoid. Okay, okay, “tobacco” isn’t actually food, but if you want to decrease tinnitus episodes (and the severity of those episodes), you’ll avoid drinking and smoking as much as you can.

Your overall health can be drastically impacted by tobacco and alcohol especially your blood pressure. The more you indulge, the more likely a tinnitus flare up will be.


One of the best predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. Your tinnitus gets worse when your blood pressure increases. That’s the reason sodium should certainly be on your list of food foods to stay away from. You’ll want to significantly reduce your sodium intake whether you put salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are some foods that you don’t normally consider to be high in sodium including ice cream. You’ll want to watch out for sodium levels in everything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus event.

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be shocking that you should stay away from fast food if you are avoiding sodium. Even fast food places that claim to be a more healthy option serve food that is very high in fat and sodium. And, once again, that’s going to have a big influence on your blood pressure and, therefore, your tinnitus. Fast food outlets also usually serve astonishingly large drinks, and those beverages are mostly sugar. Yes you guessed it, sugar is next on this list.

Sweets And Sugars

We all love candy. Well, the majority of us love candy. From time to time, you’ll encounter someone who actually prefers broccoli over candy. No judgment from us.

Sadly, sugar can really throw off the balance of glucose in your body. And a small disruption of your glucose balance can cause you to have a hard time sleeping. In the quiet of the night, as you lie there awake, it becomes a lot easier to begin to hear that ringing.


There is an obvious reason why we kept this one for last. This is the one we’re least positive about needing to eliminate. But drinking caffeine late in the day, whether from soda, tea, or coffee, can really ruin your sleep cycle. And your tinnitus is more likely to flare up if you aren’t getting quality sleep.

It’s actually the lack of sleep, not the caffeine that’s the problem. Have your coffee or tea in the morning, and change to a non-caffeinated drink before dinner.

Learn What Works Best For You

This list is by no means comprehensive. You’ll want to consult your hearing specialist about any dietary modifications you may need to make. And it’s worth bearing in mind that everybody will be affected in their own way by dietary modifications, so in order to keep track of what is working and what isn’t, it might be a good idea to keep a food journal.

Going forward you will have an easier time making wise decisions if you know how certain foods affect you. When you begin tracking what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you may start to notice patterns, and that can take some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

Then you will know 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.

Medical information dates as new research comes out all the time - if you have a concern about your hearing, please call us.

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