Can Food Worsen Symptoms of Tinnitus?

Hippocrates once said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In a nutshell, the food you consume has an impact on our general health and well-being. And this extends to the health of our ears. So can food worsen symptoms of tinnitus?

In the International Journal of Audiology (2013, Vol 52, p. 369-376) Spankovich and Le Prell report “a significant relationship between dietary nutrient intake and susceptibility to acquired hearing loss is emerging.” Why is this important? Tinnitus is often caused by an underlying condition, with an increasing body of evidence that shows people with tinnitus are likely to also have a hearing loss.

The American Tinnitus Association says: “There is scant evidence directly connecting specific foods (or the exclusion of specific foods) to improved tinnitus symptoms.” They go on to highlight: “A health-conscious diet can reduce hypertension and weight, increase blood flow, heighten energy levels and improve emotional well-being — all of which can benefit your tinnitus.” [source: https://www.ata.org/managing-your-tinnitus/treatment-options/general-wellness]

Essentially, good nutrition can positively benefit your body, which could lead to a lessening of tinnitus symptoms.

Foods to Try Reducing

Salt – High levels of salt has been found to increase blood pressure and restrict blood vessels and blood flow to the ears and brain. Canned and processed foods in particular tend to have high salt content.

Caffeine – This is a case by case effect, with studies showing mixed results. You may find that your symptoms worsen after consumption of caffeine, but for others the reverse is true.

Alcohol – Some people report symptoms worsen and some report that they are perhaps just more aware of their symptoms. It’s best to monitor the impact it has on you personally, and then and be mindful of how much to consume.

Excess Sugar – This could reduce blood flow and therefore oxygen supply to both the ears and brain. That could lead to damaged blood vessels and nerves, potentially causing tinnitus symptoms.

Trans fat or Saturated fat found in processed foods – Reducing levels of this will have several health benefits. High levels could once again be responsible for reduced blood flow to the ears.

MSG – MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is used to enhance flavor in many processed or fast foods. It boosts levels of electrical activity in the brain by exciting brain neurons. Whilst this sounds good it is tiring for the brain and has after effects. It can also over stimulate the auditory cortex, which is where tinnitus is perceived.

If you’re planning on eliminating or reducing food items such as those above, we recommend keeping a food diary. In it, record what you’ve eaten that day and when, and how your tinnitus symptoms were. Keep at it for a few days, and you may start to see patterns emerge. When re-introducing the food items, do so gradually and monitor your symptoms.

If you’d like to discuss potential ways that we can help provide relief from tinnitus symptoms, come in and meet the team at Audionics NYC. Book your appointment by calling 212-755-5100, or click here to book online.

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