Hearing Health Blog

Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are hardly ever continuous; it seems to be difficult to understand why and when these sounds happen. Sometimes, it seems like, for no evident reason at all, your ears just start buzzing. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there aren’t any clear triggers for this episode: There is no apparent reason why, at 9 PM, ringing starts happening, no loud music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So maybe it’s the food. Generally we don’t connect the idea of food with hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that certain foods can make tinnitus worse. In order to steer clear of those foods, you need to recognize what they are.

Which Foods Make Tinnitus Worse?

So let’s get right down to it. You won’t want to experience a food related tinnitus episode so you need to identify which foods can cause it. Certain foods to stay away from could include:

Alcoholic Drinks

Alcohol and tobacco should be at the top of the list of things to stay clear of. Alright, alright, “tobacco” isn’t actually food, but if you want to reduce tinnitus attacks (and the intensity of those episodes), you’ll abstain from drinking and smoking as much as possible.

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

Sodium

Your blood pressure is one of the leading predictors of tinnitus episodes. When your blood pressure goes up, your tinnitus gets worse. That’s why sodium should absolutely be on your list of food foods to stay away from. You’ll want to drastically decrease your sodium intake whether you use salt on everything or you just love eating french fries.

There are many foods that are shockingly high in sodium, too, including ice cream (which you don’t typically think of as tasting especially salty). You’ll need to watch out for sodium levels in everything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be surprising that you should avoid fast food if you are avoiding sodium. Even fast food places that claim to be a more healthy alternative serve food that is very high in sodium and fat. And, once again, that’s going to have a huge 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.

Sweets And Sugars

We all love candy. Well, maybe not everyone, but most of us. There is a very small percentage of the populace that would actually prefer vegetables. No judgment from us.

Regrettably, sugar can completely throw off the balance of glucose in your body. And as you’re attempting to fall asleep at night, a little disruption to that balance can mean a lot of tossing and turning. And the more you toss and turn, the more you begin to listen for that buzzing and ringing.

Caffeine

There’s an obvious reason why we saved this one for last. Giving this one up is a tough pill to swallow. But having caffeine late in the day, whether from coffee, tea, or soda, can really ruin your sleep cycle. And the less quality sleep you get, the more your tinnitus is likely to flare up.

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

Find out What Works Best For You

This list is by no means comprehensive. You’ll want to consult your hearing expert about any dietary adjustments you may need to make. Let’s not forget that dietary adjustments affect everyone in a different way, so in order to keep an eye on what is working and what isn’t, it may be a smart idea to keep a food journal.

Being aware of which foods can lead to a tinnitus flare up can help you make smarter choices going forward. When you begin keeping track of how your ears respond to different foods, the reason for your tinnitus may become less incomprehensible.

Then you will recognize if you are going to regret that late cup of coffee.

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