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Man grimacing from ringing in his ear.

There is an inconsistency in symptoms of tinnitus; they seem to appear and vanish, often for no apparent reason at all. Perhaps you’re getting into bed one night and, apparently out of the blue, your ears start ringing something fierce. As you lie in bed, you consider your day, and there are no clear causes for this episode: no noisy music, no screeching fire alarms, nothing that would explain why your tinnitus chose 9 PM to flare up.

So maybe it’s the food. Ordinarily we don’t connect the idea of food with hearing, but there’s a bit of research and evidence to suggest that some foods can make tinnitus worse. In order to steer clear of those foods, you need to know what they are.

Which Foods Worsen Tinnitus?

So let’s get right to it. You won’t want to experience a food related tinnitus episode so you need to know what foods can cause it. Certain foods to stay away from may include:

Alcohol

Alcohol and tobacco should be high on the list of things to stay clear of. Alright, alright, “tobacco” isn’t necessarily food, but if you want to lessen tinnitus flare up’s (and the intensity of those episodes), you’ll steer clear of drinking and smoking as much as you can.

Both alcohol and tobacco products can have a substantial effect on your blood pressure (not to mention your general health). The more you indulge, 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 goes up, your tinnitus worsens. That’s the reason why when you make your list of foods to stay away from, sodium should be at the top. You’ll want to significantly reduce your sodium intake whether you use salt on everything or you just love to eat french fries.

There are certain foods that are remarkably high in sodium, too, including ice cream (which you don’t normally 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 surprising that you should avoid fast food if you are avoiding sodium. The majority of fast-food places (even the ones that claim they are a healthier choice) serve food that is packed with salt and fat. And, clearly, your blood pressure and your tinnitus will be negatively impacted by this kind of diet. Fast food restaurants also tend to serve astonishingly huge beverages, and those beverages are very high in sugar. Which brings us to the next food you should avoid.

Sugars and Sweets

Candy is something that all of us love. Well, the majority of us love candy. Every once in a while, you’ll come across someone who actually prefers broccoli over chocolate. We try not to judge.

Regrettably, the glucose balance in your body can be significantly disrupted by sugar. And as you’re trying to go to sleep 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 buzzing and ringing.

Caffeine

So, we saved this one for last because, well, we get it. Quitting this one is a hard pill to swallow. But drinking caffeine late in the day, whether from coffee, tea, or soda, can really ruin your sleep cycle. And your tinnitus is more likely to flare up if you aren’t getting quality sleep.

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

What Are Your Best Practices?

This is certainly not a comprehensive list. You’ll want to speak with your hearing professional about any dietary changes you might need to make. Let’s not forget that dietary changes affect everyone differently, so it may even be worth maintaining a food journal where you can keep track of what affects you and by how much.

Going forward you will have an easier time making smart decisions if you understand how particular foods affect you. When you begin tracking what you eat, and what happens to your ears subsequently, you might begin 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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