Hearing Services of Nashville

Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in tinnitus symptoms; it seems difficult to understand why and when these sounds happen. Perhaps you’re climbing into bed one night and, apparently without warning, your ears begin to ring something fierce. As you lie in bed, you think back over your day, and there are no clear causes for this episode: There is no apparent reason why, at 9 PM, ringing is taking place, no noisy music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So possibly the food you ate might be the reason. Normally 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. The secret for you is learning what those foods are, so you can avoid them.

Some Foods That Activate Tinnitus

So let’s get right down to it. You won’t want to experience a food triggered tinnitus event so it’s important to recognize which foods can trigger it. Here are some foods to avoid:

Alcoholic Beverages

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

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


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

There are some foods that are remarkably high in sodium, also, like ice cream (which you don’t normally think of as tasting particularly salty). But to avoid any sudden tinnitus episodes you will want to keep track of sodium content.

Fast Food

If you’re keeping away from sodium, it should come as no shock that you should also be avoiding fast food. The majority of fast-food joints (even the ones that bill themselves as a healthier choice) serve food that is loaded with salt and fat. And, of course, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be negatively impacted by this kind of diet. Let’s not forget the giant drinks they serve which are very high in sugar. Yes you guessed it, sugar is next on the list.

Sugars and Sweets

We all love candy. Well, the majority of us love candy. From time to time, you’ll run into someone who genuinely prefers veggies over chocolate. We try not to judge.

Sad to say, the glucose balance in your body can be significantly disrupted by sugar. And as you’re trying to go to sleep at night, a little 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 a lot easier to begin to hear that ringing.


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 have any caffeine later in the day. And your tinnitus is more likely to flare up if you don’t get quality sleep.

So it’s not really the caffeine itself that’s the problem, it’s the lack of sleep. Have your coffee or tea in the morning, and switch to a non-caffeinated beverage before dinner.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Your hearing expert is the best place to start regarding the dietary changes you need to undertake. And it’s worth remembering that everyone will be affected in their own way by dietary changes, so it might even be worth maintaining a food journal where you can track what affects you and by how much.

Moving ahead you will have an easier time making practical choices if you know how some foods affect you. When you start keeping track of how your ears respond to different foods, the explanation for your tinnitus could become less incomprehensible.

If you decide on that last cup 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.
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