The Association Between Tinnitus And Food

Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in tinnitus symptoms; they seem to appear and vanish, often for no apparent reason at all. Maybe you’re climbing into bed one night and, seemingly without warning, your ears start ringing badly. As you lie in bed, you think back over your day, and there are no clear triggers for this episode: no loud music, no shrieking fire alarms, nothing that might explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to flare up.

So perhaps the food you ate could be the answer. Normally we don’t associate 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. The key for you is knowing what those foods are, so you can stay away from them.

What Foods Make Tinnitus Worse?

So let’s get right down to it. You don’t want to go through a food related tinnitus event so it’s important to recognize which foods can cause it. Some foods to stay away from might include:

Alcoholic Beverages

High on the list of things to steer clear of are alcohol and tobacco. You will absolutely want to avoid drinking and smoking in order to reduce your risk of a tinnitus episode despite the fact that tobacco isn’t actually a food.

Your general health can be substantially impacted by tobacco and alcohol especially your blood pressure. Your tinnitus is increasingly more likely to flare up the more you drink and smoke.


One of the best predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. When your blood pressure goes up, your tinnitus becomes worse. That’s why when you make your list of foods to stay away from, sodium needs to be at the top. Whether you enjoy french fries or just put salt on everything, you’ll want to ease up a lot.

There are some foods that are surprisingly high in sodium, also, including ice cream (which you don’t typically think of as tasting particularly salty). You’ll need to keep close track of 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 joints that boast of being a more healthy alternative serve food that is very high in fat and sodium. And, again, that’s going to have a huge consequence on your blood pressure and, therefore, your tinnitus. Let’s not forget the massive drinks they serve that are very high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food you should avoid.

Sugars and Sweets

Candy is something that we all enjoy. Well, the majority of us enjoy candy. Every now and then, you’ll run into someone who sincerely prefers veggies over candy. We try not to pass judgment.

Sad to say, the glucose balance in your body can be seriously disrupted by sugar. And as you’re attempting to go to sleep at night, a little disturbance 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.


So, we saved caffeine for last because, well, it’s a tough one. This is the one we’re least positive about having to give up. But your sleep cycle can be dramatically impacted if you drink any caffeine late 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. Have your coffee or tea in the morning, and switch to a non-caffeinated beverage before dinner.

Find out What Works Best For You

This is definitely not an exhaustive list. You’ll want to speak with your hearing expert about any dietary changes you might need to make. And it’s worth bearing in mind that everybody will be affected in their own way by dietary adjustments, 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.

Moving forward you will have an easier time making practical decisions if you recognize how some foods affect you. When you start keeping track of how your ears react to different foods, the explanation for your tinnitus might become less mysterious.

If you go for that evening 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.