Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus symptoms are not usually constant; they seem to come and go, often for no evident reason at all. Perhaps you’re getting into bed one night and, evidently out of the blue, your ears begin to ring badly. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there are no clear reasons for this episode: There is no noticeable reason why, at 9 PM, ringing starts taking place, no loud music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So possibly the food you ate may be the answer. We don’t typically think about the connection between hearing and food, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that certain foods can make tinnitus worse. The trick 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 won’t want to experience a food related tinnitus event so it’s important to recognize which foods can trigger it. Here are some foods to stay away from:


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

Your general health can be drastically affected by alcohol and tobacco especially your blood pressure. Your tinnitus is considerably 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 worsens when your blood pressure goes up. That’s the reason why when you create your list of foods to stay away from, sodium should be at the top. Whether you love french fries or just put salt on everything, you’ll want to cut way, way back.

There are some foods that you don’t normally consider high in sodium such as ice cream. You’ll want to watch out for sodium levels in everything you eat to avoid a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

If you’re avoiding sodium, it should come as no shock that you should also be avoiding fast food. The majority of fast-food restaurants (even the ones that claim they are a healthier alternative) serve food that is loaded with salt and fat. And, clearly, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be negatively affected by this kind of diet. Fast food restaurants also tend to serve shockingly big beverages, and those drinks are mostly sugar. Which brings us to the next food to avoid.

Sugars and Sweets

Candy is something that all of us love. Well, the majority of us love candy. There is a very small percentage of the population that would actually prefer vegetables. No judgment from us.

Sadly, sugar can completely throw off the balance of glucose in your body. And as you’re attempting to go to sleep at night, a little disturbance to that balance can mean a lot of tossing and turning. In the quiet of the night, while you lie there awake, it becomes much 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 happy about having to give up. But having caffeine late in the day, whether from soda, tea, or coffee, can really mess up your sleep cycle. And the less quality sleep you get, the more likely your tinnitus is to flare up.

So it’s not actually the caffeine by itself that’s the issue, it’s the lack of sleep. Have 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 comprehensive. Your hearing specialist is the ideal place to begin regarding the dietary modifications you need to undertake. Let’s remember that dietary modifications impact everyone in a different way, so in order to keep track of what is working and what isn’t, it may be a smart idea to keep a food journal.

Moving ahead you will have an easier time making smart decisions if you understand how particular foods affect you. When you begin monitoring how your ears react to different foods, the reason for your tinnitus could become less mysterious.

If you go for that evening 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.

Main Line Audiology Consultants, PC