Tinnitus and food: What's the connection?


Contributed by Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy Hearing
Last updated 2019-05-08T00:00:00-05:00

Chronic tinnitus is poorly understood, and there is little hard evidence to support a definitive connection between tinnitus and food. However, many tinnitus sufferers report a worsening of their symptoms with certain foods or beverages.

Person shaking salt out of a shaker
Some people find that limiting salt helps

reduce tinnitus.

What is known: Drinking alcohol can be a major culprit behind tinnitus (and problems with hearing), but as it turns out, so can many other things we put into our bodies. For some people, that can mean limiting caffeine or salt. For others, those items might actually help. In essence, everyone’s tinnitus food triggers are unique. 

Could something you’re eating or drinking be causing the ringing in your ears?

A food diary to track tinnitus symptoms

The best way to investigate if a food is causing your tinnitus is to keep a food journal. It may be laborious, but it’s worth the time and diligence if it improves your quality of life. As the British Tinnitus Association suggests, “The diary may have to be detailed, specifying what type of meat, vegetable, cheese, fish and so on was consumed, as one particular type of vegetable, for example, may aggravate the tinnitus, where others have no effect.” Pay attention to your tinnitus and keep detailed notes of any starts, stops or changes in the intensity of the noise.

The British Tinnitus Association advises that a food suspected of contributing to tinnitus should be avoided for a week. You can challenge your system by reintroducing that food, withdrawing it, reintroducing it again, and withdrawing it again to test its effects on your tinnitus. 

Maintaining a food diary might offer an insight into your dietary and tinnitus patterns, which may or may not reveal a correlation. From that correlation, you can decide to make changes to find the relief you’re looking for. What is most important is to give your body the diet it does best with and that minimizes agonizing tinnitus. Maybe that means no more than one glass of red wine each day, or maybe no wine at all. Maybe that means no cheese or chocolate or red meat or coffee. Or you could discover that you don’t have any food triggers. 

More: Other tips for managing tinnitus

Getting help

Because tinnitus and hearing loss often go hand in hand, see a hearing healthcare professional like one from our consumer-reviewed directory who can find out whether your tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss. In many cases, simply wearing hearing aids can lessen tinnitus. Other treatment options exist, as well. 


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