Tinnitus is one of the unfortunate and sometimes side effects of hearing loss. Both researchers and tinnitus sufferers are working on a number of therapeutic remedies for tinnitus; some are effective for some people, but so far there is no one medication or therapy that helps every patient.
That said, however, both doctors and patients have identified a number of dietary factors that make tinnitus worse in some cases. The only way to know whether or not any of these particular items makes your tinnitus worse is to eliminate each one from your diet, one item at a time. Don’t just try a change for a day or two and assume it’s not going to work; some changes take several weeks to be effective.
Caffeine: Caffeine is one of the worst offenders when it comes to aggravating tinnitus. That means avoiding any type of caffeinated drink such as coffee, tea, and colas, as well as diet medications and other supplements that contain caffeine or tea extracts.
Chocolate: Some kinds of chocolate can worsen tinnitus. However, this seems to be different for different of chocolate. Some patients report that they can eat gourmet chocolates without any trouble, but that general grocery store chocolates cause them problems. Other patients can eat white or milk chocolate, but experience worse symptoms when they eat dark chocolate.
Salt: Sodium can cause tinnitus in some patients, and also can aggravate other symptoms of Meniere’s Disease and associated hydrops. Try to limit it to 1000 mg a day, or less if you find it causes symptoms at that level. A word of caution here: there is salt hidden in places that you’d never think about. Read every label to find those hidden sources of sodium.
Artificial sweeteners: Several of the products used as artificial sweeteners can cause or worsen tinnitus. You may need to eliminate all artificial sweeteners and see if your tinnitus improves, and then add them back in one at a time to find out what triggers increased “noise.”
Other food allergies: Other foods—including citrus—can contribute to tinnitus in some patients. A food allergy scratch test is a good idea.
Nicotine: Although not technically part of your diet, nicotine still is something you ingest. It restricts blood flow in your entire body and can reduce circulation in your ears, thus causing an increase in apparent head noise.
Hydration: Drink enough water. Staying hydrated will help you maintain proper fluid levels in your inner ear and can reduce the intensity of tinnitus.
Aspirin: Aspirin has long been known to cause tinnitus in some patients. Limit your use of aspirin, and take acetaminophen whenever possible.
Ibuprofen and other NSAIDs: These are in the same category as aspirin. Use them only when nothing else will do the job.
Managing tinnitus is time consuming and difficult, and not always successful. Besides watching what you eat and drink, you also may want to try one of a number of supplement and vitamins designed for tinnitus sufferers. Lipoflavonoid Plus Caplets and Clear Tinnitus have helped some people.