Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are rarely constant; they seem to appear and disappear, often for no discernible reason at all. Perhaps you’re getting into bed one night and, apparently out of nowhere, your ears begin to ring something fierce. No matter how much you lie in bed and contemplate the reason why you hear this buzzing, you can’t think of any triggers during your day: There is no apparent reason why, at 9 PM, ringing starts taking place, no noisy music, no loud fire alarms, nothing.

So perhaps the food you ate could be the reason. Generally we don’t link the idea of food with hearing, 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 determining what those foods are, so you can stay away from them.

Some Foods That Trigger Tinnitus

Let’s just dive right in, shall we? You don’t want to go through a food related tinnitus episode so it’s important to find out what foods can cause it. Here are some foods to stay away from:

Alcohol

Alcohol and tobacco should be high on the list of items to stay away from. You will certainly want to avoid drinking and smoking in order to decrease your chance of a tinnitus episode even though tobacco isn’t actually a food.

Your overall health can be substantially affected by tobacco and alcohol especially your blood pressure. The more you drink (and smoke), the more likely a tinnitus flare up will be.

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 why sodium should certainly be on your list of food foods to stay away from. You’ll want to substantially decrease your sodium consumption whether you put salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are some foods that are remarkably high in sodium, too, including ice cream (which you don’t usually think of as tasting particularly salty). You’ll need to keep close track of sodium levels in anything 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. The majority of fast-food joints (even the ones that bill themselves as a healthier option) serve food that is jam-packed with salt and fat. And, once again, that’s going to have a huge influence on your blood pressure and, consequently, your tinnitus. Let’s not forget the giant drinks they serve which are extremely high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food you should avoid.

Sweets And Sugars

We all enjoy candy. Well, maybe not everybody, but the majority of us. There is a very small portion of the populace that would actually prefer vegetables. No judgment here.

Unfortunately, the glucose balance in your body can be seriously disrupted by sugar. And as you’re attempting to fall asleep at night, a small 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 ringing and buzzing.

Caffeine

So, we saved caffeine for last because, well, we get it. Giving this one up is a tough pill to swallow. But your sleep cycle can be substantially affected if you have any caffeine later in the day. And your tinnitus is more likely to appear if you aren’t getting quality sleep.

So it’s not actually the caffeine per se that’s the problem, it’s the lack of sleep. Change over to a drink that doesn’t have caffeine in the evenings and save your caffeine for the morning.

What Are Your Best Practices?

This is definitely not an exhaustive list. Your hearing professional is the best place to begin regarding the dietary changes you need to undertake. And it’s worth keeping in mind that everyone will be affected in their own way by dietary modifications, so it may even be worth maintaining a food journal where you can track what impacts you and by how much.

Knowing what foods can lead to a tinnitus event can help you make smarter choices going forward. When you begin tracking how your ears react to different foods, the explanation for your tinnitus might become less incomprehensible.

Then you will recognize if you are going to be sorry for that late cup of coffee.

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