Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in tinnitus symptoms; it seems difficult to know why and when these sounds happen. At times, it seems as if, for no apparent reason what so ever, your ears just start to buzz. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there aren’t any clear causes for this event: no noisy music, no screeching fire alarms, nothing that might explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to mount a flare-up.

So perhaps the food you ate might be the reason. We don’t usually think about the link between food and hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that some foods can make tinnitus worse. The secret for you is knowing what those foods are, so you can steer clear of them.

What Foods Worsen Tinnitus?

Let’s just dive right in, shall we? You want to know what foods you should stay away from so you can be sure you never have to go through one of those food-generated tinnitus episodes again. Some foods to avoid might include:

Alcoholic Drinks

At the top of the list of things to stay away from are alcohol and tobacco. You will definitely want to avoid drinking and smoking so that you can decrease your risk of a tinnitus episode even though tobacco isn’t really a food.

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


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

There are certain foods that are surprisingly high in sodium, also, like ice cream (which you don’t typically think of as tasting especially salty). You’ll want to keep close track of sodium levels in everything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

If you’re staying clear of sodium, it should come as no surprise that you should also be avoiding fast food. Even fast food joints that say they are a more healthy option serve food that is really high in sodium and fat. And, again, that’s going to have a substantial consequence on your blood pressure and, therefore, your tinnitus. Let’s not forget the giant drinks they serve that are very high in sugar. Yes you guessed it, sugar is next on the list.

Sugars and Sweets

We all enjoy candy. Well, most of us love candy. Every once in a while, you’ll come across someone who actually prefers veggies over candy. No judgment here.

Unfortunately, the glucose balance in your body can be greatly disrupted by sugar. And a tiny disturbance of your glucose stability can cause you to have a hard time trying to sleep. In the silence of the night, as you lie there awake, it becomes much easier to begin to hear that ringing.


There’s an apparent reason why we kept this one for last. This is the one we’re least happy about needing to eliminate. But your sleep cycle can be dramatically affected if you have any caffeine later 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. Drink your coffee or tea in the morning, and switch to a non-caffeinated drink before dinner.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This list is by no means exhaustive. 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 differently by dietary modifications, so it could even be worth keeping a food journal where you can track what impacts you and by how much.

Recognizing what foods can trigger a tinnitus event can help you make smarter decisions going forward. When you start monitoring how your ears respond to different foods, the reason for your tinnitus might become less mysterious.

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