7 Foods You Should Never Eat If You Have Tinnitus

7 Foods You Should Never Eat If You Have Tinnitus

By Doug Morris

Help relieve the ringing in your ears by following this handy guide on which foods are the worst offenders for those struggling with tinnitus.

Did you know that the foods you’re eating every day can be making your tinnitus worse?

These are foods that have been heavily researched over the years by scientists and doctors.

Individuals with tinnitus have agreed that they found that they can worsen the endless noise in their ears.

So, before you do anything else, take stock of your pantry, your grocery list and your favorite takeout options.

Cutting back on a few of these foods could greatly improve your tinnitus.

1. Sugary Sweets

Sugary Sweets

Your brain relies on sugar to work properly. But the amount of sugar we need is a lot less than most of us eat every day.

Eating too much sugar alters your brain function and throws it off-balance, making your brain activity more sporadic.

When this happens, it can be harder to regulate activity in the nervous system.

This can cause your tinnitus to act up while your brain struggles to get back into a stable rhythm.

Simple steps like making more homemade meals (thereby avoiding unknown added sugar from takeout and processed food), eating fresh whole fruit instead of juice or other fruit products, and setting up healthy portions for dessert will go a long way.

Not sure what the “right amount” of sugar actually is or simple ways to switch out a few of the worst offenders to keep you healthy while reducing that buzzing in your ears? Check out this list of sugary food alternatives.

2. Salty Food

Salty Food

Salt has been heavily researched by medical professionals, and many of us have heard how salt contributes to higher blood pressure and other negative health conditions.

What most people don’t know is this: Salt can activate tinnitus.

That’s because when salt from food raises your blood pressure, blood flows at a faster pace throughout your body, increasing the blood flow to your ears.

When more blood gets to your ears, there’s a lot more activity there, leading to an increase in the ringing in your ears.

Salt is such a big problem for tinnitus, that we wrote a whole article on easy ways to cut down the salt in your diet.

Give a few of those ideas a try and see if they help improve your tinnitus.

3. Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic Beverages

Studies have shown that as many as 84% of tinnitus sufferers reported that the level of tinnitus was increased when they consumed alcohol.

There are a few ways that alcohol affects your tinnitus.

Basically, when you introduce alcohol to your system, it acts like a poison.

It alters many systems in your body, travels through your bloodstream and can cause many problems, such as these:

  • Similar to salt, alcohol affects blood pressure leading to more tinnitus issues
  • It is metabolized as sugar, leading to the same tinnitus issue as eating sugar directly
  • It restricts blood vessels, which is a big problem for tinnitus
  • As a diuretic, it dehydrates you, which aggravates that ringing in your ears

All of that adds up to a disaster for anyone suffering from tinnitus.

Excessive alcohol consumption seems to be the key factor here.

Most tinnitus patients say that having a drink or two doesn’t worsen their symptoms, but going overboard is where things really get worse.

Drinking a moderate amount is the best way to go to try to alleviate the constant buzzing in your ears.

4. Coffee or Caffeine-filled Beverages


Researchers have found that excessive caffeine irritates tinnitus and may sometimes cause tinnitus.

Some patients who have completely cut-out, or at least drastically reduced the amount of coffee and caffeine they consume, have been able to completely eliminate their tinnitus.

This doesn’t mean that everyone with tinnitus shouldn’t have any caffeine. But going on a 2-week trial to see if this method would help you is worth a shot.

We’ve put together a list of easy ways to cut down caffeine intake as well as a helpful guide for some healthy alternatives to coffee.

Even if your tinnitus isn’t 100% improved with the lower coffee intake, as a side-effect it might help your sleep quality, which can be a big issue with tinnitus.

If you’re having trouble with sleeping, we have some sleep tips specifically for tinnitus sufferers like you.

5. Food High in Saturated Fat

Food High in Saturated Fat

Butter, red meat, and cheese. These foods have a couple of things in common. First, they are delicious. And second, they are all high in saturated fat.

When you eat foods high in saturated fat, it raises your cholesterol and can lead to something called atherosclerosis.

Many doctors have linked atherosclerosis to tinnitus, and it can become much more severe if you eat fatty foods.

It can also lead to many more problems, including heart disease and high blood pressure.

If you want to stay healthy while also keeping the ringing in your ears to a minimum, try reducing your saturated fat intake.

6. Food with MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)


Many tinnitus sufferers don’t know that MSG (monosodium glutamate) has been shown to trigger, increase and can even be the cause of tinnitus.

Research has shown that people with tinnitus have high levels of glutamate which leads to hyperexcitability in their auditory cortex.

Basically, when MSG is eaten, it breaks down in the digestive tract.

When that happens, the glutamate breaks off and acts as a neurotransmitter.

This neurotransmitter attacks the ears and spikes the nervous system, causing tinnitus.

It does this by overly stimulating the nerves and killing them in the process, causing them to act rapidly and sporadically.

MSG is often found in sauces, dressings, seasonings and prepackaged foods.

Read food labels carefully to see if MSG has been added to something before eating it.

Manufacturers call MSG by various names on labels.

Any time you see “glutamate” in the ingredient list, do a quick online search to see if it is a clever way they are hiding MSG in their product.

7. Aspartame in Diet Food


The diet industry has taken over America.

Over the years, many of us have switched to so-called “diet” drinks.

Most diet sodas use aspartame as their sweetener to replace the sugar, which means the label can now have a lower calorie count.

Like MSG, aspartame has been known to worsen tinnitus.

Aspartame also stimulates dysfunctional neurotransmissions which affect the very sensitive nerves in our ears.

Avoiding aspartame as much as possible might be the ticket to reducing a lot of the ringing in your ears.


Cutting back on any of our favorite foods can seem overwhelming and downright impossible. However, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Because there are so many different types of tinnitus and causes of tinnitus, there are many different things that might be causing you to suffer from the buzzing in your ears.

Making some diet changes might also help you get healthy sleep or improve your anxiety.

Take it one step at a time. Choose one of the foods listed above to cut out for a week or two to see if it has any effect on you.

When you do find the things that worsen your tinnitus, it will be easier to make the choice to keep that food to a minimum.

Until a cure for tinnitus is found, the relief you will feel by cutting back on certain foods will be worth the sacrifice!


Mergenthaler, P., Lindauer, U., Dienel, G. A., & Meisel, A. (2013). Sugar for the brain: the role of glucose in physiological and pathological brain function. Trends in neurosciences, 36(10), 587–597. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2013.07.001

Garfinkle M. A. (2017). Salt and essential hypertension: pathophysiology and implications for treatment. Journal of the American Society of Hypertension : JASH, 11(6), 385–391. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jash.2017.04.006

Stephens D. (1999). Detrimental effects of alcohol on tinnitus. Clinical otolaryngology and allied sciences, 24(2), 114–116. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2273.1999.00218.x

Figueiredo, R. R., Rates, M. J., Azevedo, A. A., Moreira, R. K., & Penido, N. (2014). Efeitos da redução no consumo de cafeína sobre a percepção do zumbido [Effects of the reduction of caffeine consumption on tinnitus perception]. Brazilian journal of otorhinolaryngology, 80(5), 416–421. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjorl.2014.05.033

Sahley, T. L., Hammonds, M. D., & Musiek, F. E. (2013). Endogenous dynorphins, glutamate and N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors may participate in a stress-mediated Type-I auditory neural exacerbation of tinnitus. Brain research, 1499, 80–108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brainres.2013.01.006

Humphries, P., Pretorius, E., & Naudé, H. (2008). Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain. European journal of clinical nutrition, 62(4), 451–462. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602866

About the author 

Doug Morris

Doug is a health researcher who has spent over 30 years as a publisher and consultant in the natural health industry. During his retirement, he spends upwards of 10 hours a day sifting through health journals and reading about new and exciting health breakthroughs - especially those regarding potential tinnitus cures. In his free time, Doug enjoys trying new restaurants and hiking with his Golden Retriever.

Recommended Articles
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}