Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus symptoms are not usually continuous; they seem to appear and disappear, sometimes for no evident reason at all. Perhaps you’re climbing into bed one night and, evidently out of nowhere, your ears start ringing something fierce. No matter how long you lie there and think about the reason why you hear this buzzing, you can’t identify any triggers in your day: There is no apparent reason why, at 9 PM, ringing is happening, no noisy music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So maybe it’s the food. We don’t usually think about the link between hearing and food, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that certain foods can make tinnitus worse. The secret for you is identifying what those foods are, so you can avoid them.

Which Foods Worsen Tinnitus?

Let’s just cut right to the chase, shall we? You won’t want to experience a food triggered tinnitus event so it’s important to recognize which foods can cause it. Here are some foods to avoid:


High on the list of items to steer clear of are alcohol and tobacco. Alright, okay, “tobacco” isn’t actually food, but if you want to decrease tinnitus flare up’s (and the intensity of those episodes), you’ll steer clear of smoking and drinking as much as possible.

Both tobacco and alcohol products can have a significant effect on your blood pressure (to say nothing of your general health). The more you drink (and smoke), the more likely a tinnitus flare up will be.


Your blood pressure is one of the biggest predictors of tinnitus flare ups. Your tinnitus gets worse when your blood pressure rises. That’s the reason why sodium should absolutely be on your list of food foods to avoid. You’ll want to drastically reduce your sodium intake whether you use salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are many foods that are remarkably high in sodium, too, such as ice cream (which you don’t usually think of as tasting particularly salty). You’ll want to watch out for sodium levels in anything you eat to avoid 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 claim to be a more healthy alternative serve food that is extremely high in fat and sodium. And, clearly, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be adversely impacted by this kind of diet. Let’s not forget the giant drinks they serve that are extremely high in sugar. Yes you guessed it, sugar is next on the list.

Sugars and Sweets

We all love candy. Well, maybe not everyone, but the majority of us. From time to time, you’ll come across someone who sincerely prefers veggies over chocolate. We try not to judge.

Sad to say, the glucose balance in your body can be seriously disrupted by sugar. And a small disruption of your glucose balance can cause you to have a hard time trying to sleep. 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, we get it. This is the one we’re least happy about having to give up. But drinking caffeine late in the day, whether from coffee, tea, or soda, can really ruin your sleep cycle. And your tinnitus is more likely to appear if you don’t get quality sleep.

It’s really the lack of sleep, not the caffeine that’s the issue. Drink your coffee or tea in the morning, and change to a non-caffeinated beverage before dinner.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This is absolutely not an exhaustive list. You’ll want to consult your hearing specialist about any dietary changes you may need to make. And it’s worth bearing in mind that everybody will be impacted differently by dietary changes, so in order to keep track of what works and what doesn’t, it might be a smart idea to keep a food journal.

Being aware of what foods can lead to a tinnitus event can help you make smarter choices moving forward. When you start keeping track of how your ears respond to different foods, the reason for your tinnitus may become less mysterious.

Then you will recognize 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.
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