Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in symptoms of tinnitus; they seem to appear and disappear, at times for no evident reason at all. Perhaps you’re climbing into bed one night and, evidently out of the blue, your ears start ringing something fierce. No matter how much you lie in bed and consider the reason why you hear this buzzing, you can’t come up with any triggers during your day: no loud music, no shrieking fire alarms, nothing that could explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to mount a flare-up.

So maybe it’s the food. Typically we don’t link the idea of food with hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that certain foods can make tinnitus worse. The secret for you is determining what those foods are, so you can steer clear of them.

Some Foods Which Activate Tinnitus

So let’s get right down to it. You want to recognize which kind of foods you should stay away from so you can make sure you never have to go through one of those food-generated tinnitus attacks again. Here are some foods to stay away from:

Alcoholic Drinks

At the top of the list of items to stay away from are tobacco and alcohol. You will certainly want to avoid drinking and smoking in order to decrease your risk of a tinnitus flare up’s even though tobacco isn’t actually a food.

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.


One of the top predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. When your blood pressure rises, your tinnitus worsens. That’s why sodium should certainly be on your list of food foods to avoid. You’ll want to significantly decrease your sodium consumption whether you put salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are some foods that you don’t typically consider to be high in sodium including ice cream. But to prevent any sudden tinnitus episodes you will want to keep track of sodium content.

Fast Food

If you’re avoiding sodium, it should come as no surprise that you should also be avoiding fast food. Most fast-food joints (even the ones that bill themselves as a healthier alternative) serve food that is loaded with salt and fat. And, of course, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be adversely affected by this kind of diet. Let’s not forget the huge drinks they serve that are extremely high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food you should avoid.

Sugars and Sweets

Candy is something that we all enjoy. Well, the majority of us love candy. From time to time, you’ll come across someone who genuinely prefers veggies over chocolate. We try not to pass judgment.

Regrettably, sugar can completely throw off the balance of glucose in your body. And a small disturbance of your glucose balance can cause you to have a hard time trying to sleep. In the quiet of the night, while you lie there awake, it becomes a lot easier to start to hear that ringing.


There’s an apparent reason why we saved this one for last. This is the one we’re least happy about having to eliminate. But your sleep cycle can be substantially 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.

It’s really the lack of sleep, not the caffeine that’s the problem. Change over to a beverage that doesn’t have caffeine at night and save your caffeine for the morning.

Find out What Works Best For You

This list is by no means comprehensive. Your hearing professional is the best place to start concerning the dietary adjustments you need to undertake. And it’s worth remembering that everybody will be impacted differently by dietary modifications, so in order to monitor what works and what doesn’t, it may be a good idea to keep a food journal.

Recognizing what foods can trigger a tinnitus episode can help you make better choices going forward. When you start monitoring how your ears respond to different foods, the explanation for your tinnitus could become less mysterious.

If you go for that last cup of coffee, at least you know what you’re dealing with.