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1/28/2019

The Link Between Sugary Foods & Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the perception of sound when none is actually present. It’s often a signal of damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, and can be indicative of a hearing loss. It can also be a sign of changes to blood sugar levels, or even hyperinsulinemia.

So can the food you eat impact the symptoms of tinnitus? The American Tinnitus Association have noted that although there is no clear evidence that sugar-laden foods cause tinnitus, plenty of sufferer accounts do report a worsening in symptoms after eating sugar-laden foods. Below we look at why this is.

Tinnitus and Blood Sugar Levels

High blood sugar (your A1c levels), can damage nerves and blood vessels, recent studies have shown. Given that your auditory system is made up of a network of small, sensitive nerves and blood vessels, these results have implications for the overall health of your ear. Restricted or reduced blood flow to your ear can cause hearing loss, and possibly the accompanying symptoms of tinnitus.

Tinnitus and Hyperinsulinemia

Hyperinsulinemia is a condition where there is too much insulin in the blood. Insulin is a hormone, made in your pancreas. One of its primary functions is to help regulate your blood sugar. When you have sufficient insulin in your body, it will help prevent your blood sugar from going too high. For those that don’t have diabetes, blood sugar is very carefully regulated by your body. Hyperinsulinemia is when there are excess levels of insulin in your blood relative to the level of glucose.

So what’s the link with tinnitus? A 2004 study demonstrated that between 84-92% of people who report symptoms of tinnitus also have hyperinsulinemia. The science also shows that our inner ears need a constant supply of oxygen rich blood, as well as glucose to function properly. When levels fluctuate, symptoms of tinnitus can worse. Left untreated, high blood sugar levels can result in damage to the nerves that signal how the brain should interpret sound.

What Steps You Can Take  

Spending some time trialing foods and getting to know which sugary foods trigger or worsen your symptoms. Start by keeping a detailed food journal. Write down what you have eaten, what you drank (including alcohol) and what time of day. Then note down how your tinnitus symptoms were that day.

When you notice a certain food or drink seems to have an affect, you should avoid consuming it for one full week. If after this week your tinnitus symptoms have lessened, gradually re-introduce the food or drink. Continue to monitor your symptoms closely and evaluate if that food should be limited in your diet.

After a period of time, you should get a clear picture about what foods and drinks are good or bad for you, or how much to allow yourself of a particular treat.

Other simple steps to protect your hearing health include:

  • Exercising daily if possible
  • Managing your weight and eating healthy
  • Reducing or stopping smoking
  • Taking steps to reduce high blood pressure

Limiting your consumption of sugary foods is one commitment you can make for your hearing health. Another is to keep up with your yearly hearing assessments. If you know it’s time to book a hearing check, call us today on (970) 352-2881 or click here to request an appointment online.

We are hearing experts.

Robert M. Traynor, Ed.D. MBA is the owner and senior audiologist on staff. Dr. Traynor has treated patients in Greeley for more than 40 years and is a widely published expert, audiology professor, and advisor to many leading hearing companies. Learn more about Dr. Traynor.