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Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

Tinnitus flare ups are not usually constant; they seem to appear and vanish, often for no apparent reason at all. Perhaps you’re getting into bed one night and, apparently without warning, your ears begin to ring something fierce. No matter how much you lie there and consider the reason why you hear this buzzing, you can’t think of any triggers during your day: no noisy music, no shrieking fire alarms, nothing that might explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to mount a flare-up.

So possibly the food you ate may be the reason. Ordinarily 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 some foods. In order to stay away from those foods, it’s important to know what they are.

Some Foods That Trigger Tinnitus

Let’s just cut right to the chase, shall we? You don’t want to go through a food related tinnitus episode so you need to recognize which foods can cause it. Here are some foods to stay away from:

Alcohol

At the top of the list of items to steer clear of are tobacco and alcohol. Okay, okay, “tobacco” isn’t actually food, but if you want to decrease tinnitus flare up’s (and the severity of those episodes), you’ll abstain from smoking and drinking as much as possible.

Both alcohol and tobacco products can have an enormous effect on your blood pressure (not to mention your general health). The more you drink (and smoke), the more likely your tinnitus will be to flare up.

Sodium

Your blood pressure is one of the biggest predictors of tinnitus flare ups. When your blood pressure rises, your tinnitus becomes worse. 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 typically consider to be high in sodium including ice cream. You’ll need to keep an eye on sodium levels in everything you eat to prevent a surprise tinnitus episode.

Fast Food

If you’re staying clear of sodium, it should come as no surprise that you should also be avoiding fast food. Most fast-food restaurants (even the ones that bill themselves as a healthier choice) serve food that is loaded with salt and fat. And, of course, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be adversely impacted by this type of diet. Let’s not forget the enormous drinks they serve which are very high in sugar. Yes you guessed it, sugar is next on this list.

Sugars and Sweets

We all enjoy candy. Well, maybe not everyone, but most of us. There is a very small percentage of the population that would actually prefer vegetables. We try not to judge.

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

Caffeine

There is an obvious reason why we kept this one for last. Quitting this one is a hard pill to swallow. But using caffeine late in the day, whether from coffee, tea, or soda, can really mess up your sleep cycle. And your tinnitus is more likely to flare up if you don’t get quality sleep.

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

Learn What Works Best For You

This is definitely not an exhaustive list. You’ll want to talk to your hearing professional about any dietary changes you might need to make. Let’s not forget that dietary modifications affect everyone differently, so in order to keep an eye on what is working and what isn’t, it might be a smart idea to keep a food journal.

Recognizing what foods can lead to a tinnitus event can help you make better decisions going forward. When you begin monitoring how your ears react to different foods, the cause of your tinnitus might become less incomprehensible.

Then you will know if you are going to regret that late cup of coffee.