Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in symptoms of tinnitus; they seem to appear and vanish, at times for no evident reason at all. Perhaps you’re getting into bed one night and, apparently without warning, your ears start ringing something fierce. As you lie in bed, you think back over your day, and there aren’t any clear triggers for this episode: no noisy music, no screeching fire alarms, nothing that would explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to mount a flare-up.

So perhaps the food you ate might be the answer. Typically we don’t connect the idea of food with hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that tinnitus can be made worse by certain foods. In order to stay away from those foods, you need to find out what they are.

Which Foods Make Tinnitus Worse?

Let’s just cut right to the chase, shall we? You would like to recognize which kind of foods you should avoid so you can be sure you never have to experience one of those food-generated tinnitus episodes again. Here are some foods to stay away from:


At the top of the list of things to avoid are alcohol and tobacco. You will definitely want to avoid smoking and drinking in order to reduce your risk of a tinnitus episode despite the fact that tobacco isn’t really a food.

Your overall health can be drastically impacted by alcohol and tobacco particularly your blood pressure. The more you drink (and smoke), the more likely a tinnitus flare up will be.


Your blood pressure is one of the leading predictors of tinnitus episodes. Your tinnitus gets worse when your blood pressure increases. That’s why when you set your list of foods to avoid, sodium needs to be at the top. You’ll need to substantially reduce your sodium consumption whether you use salt on everything or you just love eating french fries.

There are some foods that you don’t typically consider to be high in sodium such as ice cream. You’ll need to keep close track of sodium levels in anything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be surprising that you should avoid fast food if you are avoiding sodium. Even fast food joints that claim to be a more healthy option serve food that is really high in sodium and fat. And, clearly, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be negatively affected by this kind of diet. Let’s not forget the massive drinks they serve that are extremely high in sugar. Which brings up the next food to avoid.

Sweets And Sugars

Candy is something that all of us love. Well, maybe not everybody, but the majority of us. Every now and then, you’ll run into someone who actually prefers broccoli over candy. We try not to pass judgment.

Regrettably, sugar can completely throw off the equilibrium of glucose in your body. And a little disturbance of your glucose balance can cause you to have a difficult time trying to sleep. In the quiet of the night, as you lie there awake, it becomes much easier to start to hear that ringing.


So, we saved caffeine for last because, well, we get it. Quitting this one is a hard pill to swallow. But using caffeine late in the day, whether from soda, tea, or coffee, can really ruin your sleep cycle. And your tinnitus is more likely to appear if you aren’t getting quality sleep.

It’s really 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 beverage before dinner.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This list is by no means exhaustive. You’ll want to consult your hearing professional about any dietary changes you may need to make. Let’s not forget that dietary modifications impact everyone in a unique way, so in order to keep an eye on what works and what doesn’t, it might be a smart idea to keep a food journal.

Knowing what foods can trigger a tinnitus event can help you make smarter decisions going forward. When you begin to track what you eat, and what happens to your ears afterward, you may start to detect patterns, and that can remove some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

If you go for that evening of coffee, at least you know what you’re in for.

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