This list of 10 foods that will make your tinnitus symptoms worse is not a scientific study, by any measure. And I am not a doctor. If anything, I’m little more than a person with tinnitus who also happens to be pretty good at using Google.
And I’ve used my “Google Genius” powers to assemble this list of foods (except one, I kinda cheated a bit there) that are suspected to cause or exacerbate the symptoms people with tinnitus have typically.
Please understand, I’m not trying to change you. Only you have the power to do that. What I’m suggesting is that you take a look at the foods on this list and consider if you might like to experiment with reducing or removing them from your diet for a trial period, say 7-30 days. If you don’t see any improvement in the loud noise perceived, then you know that food item is not the culprit for the tinnitus sounds.
Also, some of the items on this list are somewhat controversial and, typically, arguments for either side make perfect sense. I am not taking one side or the other here. Tinnitus is what’s considered a heterogeneous condition. What that means is that my tinnitus isn’t like your tinnitus. As such, I can’t tell you what tinnitus treatment option is best for you to get rid of yours, just as I’d like you to abstain from telling me what’s right and wrong with my individual approach.
My humble advice is to consider each item on this list and draw your own conclusions about what direction you’d like to take in the treatment of your own condition.
Anyway, on to the list…
Salt restricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure. Almost immediately after consuming salt, blood flow is restricted to the ears, eyes and brain.
Most of the salt we consume in the west comes from processed foods. In particular, canned foods such as soup and vegetables are packed with salt to preserve their shelf life. A single can of soup may contain the entire USRDA of salt for an adult.
Because most of the salt we consume come from the processing of foods, rather than from us sprinkling it over our plates, it can be extremely difficult to remove completely without an extreme change.
OK, so it’s not technically a food but it is consumed so I shoe-horned it into the list.
If you smoke, it’s the first thing you should consider changing in order to reduce the ringing you perceive with tinnitus (and just about anything else you might be suffering from).
The carbon monoxide and nicotine in cigarette smoke reduce blood flow to all parts of your body, including your ears. As a result, the incredibly sensitive eardrum and cochlea are starved of oxygen, which can do irreparable damage and cause hearing loss.
Additionally, nicotine can confuse the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve. Over time, you are essentially re-training your brain to tune into sound in a different way.
Quitting smoking today is probably the best thing you can do to improve your quality of life, across the board.
Like salt, caffeine’s principal problem with regard to tinnitus in the restriction of blood flow and high blood pressure.
There are many schools of thought when it comes to the connection between caffeine and tinnitus. Some studies have shown that caffeine exacerbates tinnitus, while others have shown that it is actually a beneficial substance in the treatment of tinnitus.
As with all things, moderation is probably the key. If you’re like me and drink coffee all day long while working at a computer, you might want to cut back on caffeine intake. If, however, you have a cup or two to get going in the morning, you’re probably just fine.
Let me remind you, I am not a doctor and this article should not be construed as medical advice. With all items on this list, please use your own judgment in consideration of your tinnitus treatment to see if it has an impact for YOU.
Trust me, I’m not coming to take away your diet soda. But it’s something you might consider eliminating from your diet as part of your treatment.
I won’t pretend to know the science behind the suspected connection between artificial sweeteners, such as Aspertame and Sucralose and tinnitus. The opinions seem to vary widely and it’s practically impossible to know which comes from one camp or the other.
However, many people have claimed a dramatic reduction in the severity of the white noise perceived by tinnitus sufferers following the elimination of artificial sweeteners from their diets. Could you be one of them? Rather than spend time researching the possible connections, why not simply try to go a few weeks without Diet Cokes and the rest, and see if that has an impact on YOUR tinnitus?
Alright, so this may seem a bit unfair. I just told you to consider avoiding artificial sweeteners and now I’m suggesting you do the same with the real deal. I must take delight in other’s suffering, huh?
No, in fact. I’m trying to help you to end yours!
Here’s the way this works…the inner ear, like the brain, is totally without its own energy reserves (no stored fats as fuel) and so depends directly on the supply of oxygen and glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream for its metabolism. Excess sugar in that blood has the potential to disrupt the workings of the inner ear.
In fact, in a 2004 study,
researchers concluded that 84-92% of tinnitus patients were found to have a metabolic disorder called hyperinsulinemia, an elevation of insulin levels in the bloodstream. It is a direct consequence of a metabolic disorder known as insulin resistance. This is characterized by a reduced biological response to insulin at the cellular level. Insulin becomes less effective in transferring glucose from the bloodstream to the cells. The pancreas then produces more insulin in order to lower blood glucose levels and insulin levels increase. Hyperinsulinemia is known to be related to hypoglycemia and, as it progresses, may eventually lead to type 2 diabetes.
But there’s good news! Hyperinsulinemia is easily detected and, often, just as easily reversed.
If you suspect Hyperinsulinemia is at the root of your tinnitus, you should ask your doctor to perform a blood-glucose test for you. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you may have just found your culprit and learned that it’s fairly easy to reverse.
Good on ya!
Sulfites are a preservative and antibiotic, found in everything from bacon to red wine, chocolate to trail mix. Eliminating them entirely may prove to be all but impossible.
I have to be honest here… I can’t find any conclusive proof, one way or the other, that sulfites are directly connected to tinnitus. The web is chock-a-block with subjective opinion and many seem to be simply repeating the party line, “If you have tinnitus, avoid sulfites” with no accompanying discussion of the suspected mechanisms at play.
As with all items on this list, if you try eliminating them from your diet and see improvement in the severity of your tinnitus, you may have found something that works for YOU.
Another test recommended by allergists, is to eat five dried apricots that contain high amounts of sulfites. If you have a reaction, you’re probably allergic.
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is well-known as a flavor enhancer but it also happens to be an “excitatory neurotransmitter.” What that means, in plain English, is that it increases levels of electrical activity in the brain and auditory cortex, where the loud noise caused by tinnitus is perceived.
Many tinnitus sufferers have described a dramatic reduction, even elimination, from their symptoms by removing MSG from their diets.
MSG is found in a lot more places than just the local Chinese buffet. It requires a pretty strict diet regimen to eliminate it but if your tinnitus is bad enough, it may be worth a try.
Quinine (tonic water)
Easy on the G-n-T’s this summer, m’kay?
Quinine has been used for centuries to stave off malaria and scurvy. Aside from the obvious use in cocktails, it’s also used by many to reduce leg cramping, the effect being very similar to that of aspirin, on both accounts. (I haven’t included it here because it’s not, technically, a food, but look for aspirin as one of the medications you might consider avoiding if you have tinnitus).
Both quinine and aspirin can result in salicylate-induced tinnitus. The good news is that patients who have discovered a connection between salicylates and tinnitus show improvement within a few days of eliminating the culprit from their diets.
Saturated and Trans Fats
For all the same reasons you might consider removing these foods to help your heart and cardiovascular system, you might do the same for your tinnitus.
Saturated and trans fats are dangerous to you because they reduce blood flow. And, as we’ve discussed above, reduced blood flow increases the symptoms of tinnitus.
Your GP or family doctor has probably already spoken to you about this, so I won’t go into great detail here. I’ll just use this as my segue to the last item on the list;
So let’s take a look at what’s in fast food, shall we? For that, we can just reference the above list!
Here are the things it’s generally considered wise for people with tinnitus to avoid to help improve their condition, which also happen to be found in most fast food:
- artificial sweeteners
- saturated and trans fats
Given that seven of the above no-no’s are on this list, it seems an obvious step to reduce or eliminate fast food meals from your diet. As your humble author, I must admit that I find it challenging to skip the ease and affordability of a Quarter Pounder with cheese.
Ultimately, the choice yours. Which sacrifice will cause you greater distress, Big Macs or tinnitus?
I’d like to reiterate, I’m not insisting that you rush out and dump all of your Diet Coke and wine and throw away half of your food. I’m merely suggesting that if you’d like to do some self-treatment your tinnitus, these are the most likely places to start.
In the interest of finding relief (or even possible elimination of your symptoms entirely), would you be willing to go a week without wine? Or artificial sweeteners? Or fast food?
What do you think? Please tell me in the comments and let me know if you have tried any of the above, whether it helped you or not.