Ring, ring: all about tinnitis

Tinnitus is experienced as constant and recurring ringing, buzzing, or hissing noises not caused by anything in the external environment. The sound may be continuous, intermittent or may pulse in time to the heartbeat.

It is thought that the noise originates in the brain and not in the ear, as was previously believed. Hearing loss is usually, but not always, associated with tinnitus.


If the ear is damaged by exposure to loud noises or certain medications (including aspirin), the brain may try to compensate and end up producing electrical signals that a person hears as a ringing noise in the ears. Tinnitus may occur as a result of the following:

  • Injury or trauma to the ear or head.
  • Acoustic trauma (exposure to loud noises).
  • Infection of any part of the ear.
  • Obstruction of the auditory canal or Eustachian tube.
  • Meniere’s disease – disorder of the inner ear
  • Toxicity or side effects from drugs or chemicals such as some antibiotics and diuretics, quinine, salicylates, heavy metals, alcohol, carbon monoxide.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Anaemia.

Diet and lifestyle

Increase consumption of:

  • foods high in carotene and vitamin A, such as dark green and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits – broccoli, kale, spinach, turnip, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and apricots – as there are high amounts of this vitamin found in the cochlea and it appears to be important for normal functioning of the ear;
  • foods high in zinc, such as pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, pecans, legumes, buckwheat and oats as deficiency of this mineral has been associated with hearing loss;
  • foods high in iron, such as chia seeds, blackstrap molasses, dark green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds;
  • foods high in iodine, such as seaweeds, as deficiency of this mineral has been associated with hearing loss; and
  • foods with a low glycaemic index (i.e. low GI) such as oats, wholegrains, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, mushrooms and leafy greens.

Decrease or avoid consumption of:

  • high fat foods, processed foods, refined and convenience foods.
  • sugar and salt.

Other considerations:

  • protect the ears when using loud equipment or when listening to loud music.
  • consider seeing an osteopath or chiropractor for adjustment of the cervical vertebrae.
  • check for high cholesterol as this may be associated with hearing loss.

by Sam Sample