Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus symptoms are almost never continuous; they seem to appear and vanish, sometimes for no evident reason at all. Maybe you’re climbing into bed one night and, evidently out of nowhere, your ears start ringing something fierce. As you lie in bed, you think back over your day, and there are no clear reasons for this event: There is no apparent reason why, at 9 PM, ringing starts taking place, no noisy music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So maybe it’s the food. Ordinarily we don’t link 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 stay away from those foods, you need to recognize what they are.

Some Foods Which Trigger Tinnitus

So let’s get right down to it. You don’t want to experience a food related tinnitus event so you need to find out what foods can cause it. Certain foods to stay away from may include:


Alcohol and tobacco should be at the top of the list of items to stay away from. You will absolutely want to avoid drinking and smoking so that you can decrease your chance of a tinnitus flare up’s despite the fact that tobacco isn’t really a food.

Both tobacco and alcohol products can have an enormous impact on your blood pressure (to say nothing of your total health). Your tinnitus is considerably more likely to flare up the more you drink and smoke.


One of the best predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. Your tinnitus worsens when your blood pressure rises. That’s the reason why when you create your list of foods to stay away from, sodium should 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 many foods that are remarkably high in sodium, also, such as ice cream (which you don’t commonly think of as tasting especially salty). You’ll want to keep close track of sodium levels in anything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus event.

Fast Food

If you’re staying away from sodium, it should come as no surprise that you should also be avoiding fast food. Even fast food places that boast of being a more healthy alternative serve food that is very high in sodium and fat. And, once again, that’s going to have a substantial impact on your blood pressure and, therefore, your tinnitus. Fast food restaurants also tend to serve shockingly big beverages, and those beverages are very high in sugar. Which brings up the next food to avoid.

Sweets And Sugars

We all enjoy candy. Well, maybe not everyone, but most of us. From time to time, you’ll come across someone who actually prefers broccoli over candy. No judgment from us.

Regrettably, sugar can completely throw off the equilibrium of glucose in your body. And as you’re attempting to get to sleep at night, a small disturbance to that balance can mean a lot of tossing and turning. In the silence of the night, as you lie there awake, it becomes much easier to begin to hear that ringing.


So, we saved caffeine for last because, well, it’s a tough one. Giving this one up is a hard pill to swallow. But your sleep cycle can be substantially impacted if you have any caffeine late in the day. And the worse your quality of sleep, the more your tinnitus is likely to flare up.

So it’s not really the caffeine per se that’s the problem, it’s the lack of sleep. Change over to a beverage that doesn’t have caffeine in the evenings and save your caffeine for the morning.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This list is by no means comprehensive. Your hearing specialist is the ideal place to start regarding the dietary modifications you need to make. And it’s worth keeping in mind that everybody will be affected in their own way by dietary changes, so in order to keep track of what works and what doesn’t, it may be a smart idea to keep a food journal.

Understanding what foods can trigger a tinnitus episode can help you make wiser choices going ahead. When you begin tracking how your ears react to different foods, the explanation for your tinnitus may become less mysterious.

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