Can the Food You Eat Worsen Symptoms of Tinnitus?

You’ve likely heard the expression “You are what you eat.” Both the quality and the quantity of the food that we eat on a daily basis can impact our overall health. This includes the health of your ears. But can the food you eat worsen symptoms of tinnitus?

In 2013, the International Journal of Audiology found “a significant relationship between dietary nutrient intake and susceptibility to acquired hearing loss is emerging.”

Further research has shown that people who eat a lot of healthy foods have better hearing. Equally, those whose diet is less healthy are more likely to have hearing loss.

It’s increasingly clear that what you eat can affect your hearing. But what does this have to do with tinnitus? It’s estimated that “90 percent of tinnitus cases occur with an underlying hearing loss.” Therefore, eating foods that protect your hearing could also impact the symptoms of tinnitus.

Can the Food You Eat Worsen Symptoms of Tinnitus?

Although the American Tinnitus Association states, “There is scant evidence directly connecting specific foods (or the exclusion of specific foods) to improved tinnitus symptoms.”

They also 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.”

Simply put, good nutrition can benefit your body and mind, which in turn could reduce your tinnitus symptoms. Let’s explore the foods you should consider reducing or increasing.

Foods to Consider Reducing:

These foods may worsen symptoms of tinnitus. Try to reduce consumption of:

  • Salt can restrict blood vessels, increase blood pressure and restrict blood flow to the ears and brain. (Note: canned and processed foods often have high salt content.)
  • Caffeine studies have mixed results. Some people find it improves their symptoms, others report experiencing negative effects.
  • Alcohol could worsen or make you more aware of symptoms. Monitor your intake and adjust your levels of consumption accordingly.
  • Excess sugar in the blood supply could damage nerves and blood vessels. A subsequent impact could be reduced blood flow and oxygen supply to the ears and brain.
  • Trans fat or Saturated fat could reduce blood flow. Reducing your intake has several health benefits.
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a flavor enhancer found in a lot of pre-packaged and processed food. It is an excitatory neurotransmitter, which means it excites brain neurons and increases the levels of electrical activity in the brain. This includes the auditory cortex, the area of the brain where tinnitus is perceived.

Foods to Consider Increasing:

These foods and nutrients may help improve symptoms of tinnitus. Try to increase your consumption of:

  • Zinc can help improve symptoms of tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, zinc deficiency is one causation of age-related hearing loss. By recognizing and correcting it, a progressive hearing loss can be arrested. Try: dark chocolate, cashews, beef, dried cranberries.
  • Magnesium by its neuroprotective and vasodilatory effects, has the potency to prevent or limit hearing loss. Its effects are shown to be particularly evident after noise exposure or sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Potassium helps to regulate fluids in your body (such as in your ears). Try: bananas, potatoes, pineapple, artichokes or broccoli.
  • Omega 3 and Vitamin D help brain function, studies show eating fish twice per week can have a 42% lower chance of age-related hearing loss and reduce the risk of persistent tinnitus. Try: salmon, sardines, flaxseed oil.
  • Antioxidants and folic acid can reduce the number of free radicals in your body (which could damage the delicate tissues in your ears). Try: spinach, beans, broccoli, asparagus, nuts, and liver.
  • Vitamins C and E are good for your overall health and reduce your risks of infection. Try: broccoli, citrus fruits, avocado and meats. 

Tinnitus is a heterogeneous condition. That means that people will experience different symptoms. If you have decided to eliminate certain food items, we recommend that you keep a food journal. Record how your tinnitus symptoms were that day, along with the foods you consumed.

Over time, this should help you to identify if there are foods that worsen your tinnitus symptoms. You may then try cutting out an item for one week, then reintroducing and monitoring symptoms again. This way you can tailor your diet to your symptoms and not unnecessarily limit your diet.

If you would like to discuss your tinnitus symptoms further, or if you are due for a hearing assessment, come in and meet the Anderson Audiology team. Call us on 702-997-2964. Alternatively, click here to request an appointment online.

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