Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are almost never constant; it seems difficult to identify why and when these sounds occur. Perhaps you’re climbing into bed one night and, evidently out of the blue, your ears start ringing something fierce. No matter how long you lie there and consider the reason why you hear this buzzing, you can’t identify any triggers during your day: no noisy music, no screeching fire alarms, nothing that could explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to mount a flare-up.

So possibly the food you ate may be the reason. We don’t typically think about the connection between hearing and food, 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 identifying what those foods are, so you can stay away from them.

Some Foods Which Activate Tinnitus

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


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

Both alcohol and tobacco products can have a substantial impact on your blood pressure (not to mention your overall health). Your tinnitus is considerably more likely to flare up the more you drink and smoke.


One of the most useful predictors of tinnitus episodes is your blood pressure. Your tinnitus worsens when your blood pressure rises. That’s why sodium should certainly be on your list of food foods to stay away from. You’ll want to substantially reduce your sodium intake whether you put salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

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

Fast Food

It shouldn’t be shocking that you should stay away from fast food if you are avoiding sodium. Even fast food joints that boast of being a more healthy option serve food that is really high in sodium and fat. And, once again, that’s going to have a huge impact on your blood pressure and, therefore, your tinnitus. Let’s not forget the giant drinks they serve which are very high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food you should avoid.

Sugars and Sweets

Candy is something that we all love. Well, maybe not everybody, but most of us. There is a very small percentage of the public that would actually prefer veggies. No judgment here.

However, the glucose balance in your body can be seriously disrupted by sugar. And a small disturbance of your glucose balance can cause you to have a hard time sleeping. And the more you toss and turn, the more you begin to listen for that buzzing and ringing.


There is an apparent reason why we kept this one for last. This is the one we’re least pleased about having to eliminate. But having caffeine late in the day, whether from coffee, tea, or soda, can really ruin your sleep cycle. And the worse your quality of sleep, the more likely your tinnitus is to flare up.

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

What Are Your Best Practices?

This list is by no means exhaustive. You’ll want to talk to your hearing expert about any dietary modifications you may need to make. Let’s remember that dietary adjustments impact everyone in a unique way, so in order to monitor what works and what doesn’t, it may be a smart idea to keep a food journal.

Knowing what foods can trigger a tinnitus event can help you make smarter choices moving forward. When you start tracking what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you might start to note patterns, and that can take some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

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

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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