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Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are hardly ever continuous; they seem to appear and disappear, sometimes for no evident reason at all. Maybe you’re getting into bed one night and, apparently without warning, your ears start ringing something fierce. As you lie in bed, you think back over your day, and there aren’t any clear triggers for this event: There is no tangible reason why, at 9 PM, ringing is happening, no noisy music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So maybe it’s the something you ate. We don’t normally think about the connection between food and hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that certain foods can make tinnitus worse. In order to stay away from those foods, it’s important to find out what they are.

What Foods Worsen Tinnitus?

Let’s just cut right to the chase, shall we? You want to identify 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 episodes again. Certain foods to avoid might include:

Alcoholic Beverages

High on the list of items to steer clear of are tobacco and alcohol. Alright, alright, “tobacco” isn’t actually food, but if you want to minimize tinnitus attacks (and the intensity of those episodes), you’ll steer clear of drinking and smoking as much as possible.

Your overall health can be significantly impacted by alcohol and tobacco particularly your blood pressure. The more you indulge, the more likely your tinnitus will be to flare up.

Sodium

One of the best predictors of tinnitus flare-ups is your blood pressure. When your blood pressure rises, your tinnitus gets worse. That’s the reason sodium should certainly be on your list of food foods to stay away from. Whether you love french fries or just put salt on everything, you’ll want to cut way, way back.

There are some foods that are surprisingly high in sodium, too, like ice cream (which you don’t normally think of as tasting very salty). You’ll need to keep an eye on sodium levels in anything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus event.

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 fat and sodium. And, again, that’s going to have a big consequence on your blood pressure and, therefore, your tinnitus. Fast food restaurants also tend to serve shockingly large beverages, and those beverages are very high in sugar. Yes you guessed it, sugar is next on the list.

Sweets And Sugars

Candy is something that all of us enjoy. Well, maybe not everyone, but most of us. There is a very small portion of the population that would actually prefer vegetables. No judgment from us.

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

Caffeine

There’s an apparent reason why we saved this one for last. Giving this one up is a hard pill to swallow. But drinking caffeine late in the day, whether from soda, tea, or coffee, can really mess up your sleep cycle. And the worse your quality of sleep, the more likely your tinnitus is to flare up.

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

Discover What Works Best For You

This list is certainly not comprehensive. You’ll want to talk to your hearing expert about any dietary modifications you may need to make. Let’s not forget that dietary modifications affect everyone differently, so it could even be worth maintaining a food journal where you can track what impacts you and by how much.

Understanding what foods can trigger a tinnitus event can help you make better decisions moving forward. When you start tracking what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you may start to notice patterns, and that can remove some of the mystery out of your tinnitus symptoms.

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

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