What is Pulsatile Tinnitus?

Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile Tinnitus is rare version of the common condition, tinnitus, that may suggest more serious health issues. Are you at risk? Read on to get the necessary facts and resources to keep you safe.

Pulsatile Tinnitus is different from other forms of tinnitus. While traditional tinnitus is characterized by sounds such as rings or clicks and one or both ears, pulsatile tinnitus is associated with hearing the sound of your pulse (blood being pumped from your heart) in your ears in time with your heartbeat.

While experts say only 1 percent of all tinnitus cases are pulsatile tinnitus, it is still worth being wary of. Pulsatile tinnitus itself is often not dangerous, but audiology experts say that it can be a preliminary sign of a more dangerous condition.

This means that if you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus, it is imperative that you seek medical care to get to the bottom of the underlying causes. It could save your life!

Do you hear your heartbeat in your ear sometimes? Don’t panic too soon.

While you should be on the lookout for the symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus, it is possible to hear your heartbeat in your ears after vigorous exercise. If you notice the sound of your heartbeat in your ears while exercising, do not panic, but do make sure to pay close attention and listen for the sound at times of rest. The sound should go away on its own when you are at rest.

However, experts do warn that if you hear the sound of your heartbeat while you are at resting, and particularly if it is in sync with your actual heartbeat, it is advised that you report your concerns to your physician.

Physicians Can Help Diagnose Pulsatile Tinnitus

One of the main differences between pulsatile tinnitus and regular tinnitus is that the sounds one hears with regular tinnitus are purely subjective. That is to say, the sounds are a product of your ear malfunctioning and are not actually real sounds. In the case of pulsatile tinnitus, the sounds are objective, meaning that they exist. A highly trained physician may be able to hear them to in order to help diagnose your condition.

Root Causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus

While the root causes are regular tinnitus are almost always hearing loss, pulsatile tinnitus has many more and more threatening causes. They include…

–   Cancer (particularly tumors of the head and ear)

–   Vascular disease and blood vessel abnormalities

–   Elevated blood pressure (hypertension)

–   Holes in your inner ear

–   Damaged ear drum

–   Head trauma/injury

–   Anemia

–   Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone, often caused by thyroid cancer)

–   Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

–   Too much earwax

As you can see, many of these conditions are life-threatening and require immediate action by a physician or surgeon.

What should you do if you think you have pulsatile tinnitus?

If you believe you have pulsatile tinnitus, it is highly recommended that you make an appointment with an otolaryngologist. An otolaryngologist is a type of doctor that specializes in the treatment of diseases of the ear, nose, and throat. They are even known as “Ear, Nose, and Throat” doctors or “ENTs” for short.

The otolaryngologist will assess your symptoms, refer you to other physicians for the treatment of underlying conditions, and can help treat the tinnitus itself.

Types of Treatment Available

As seen above, pulsatile tinnitus has a variety of root causes. For this reason, there are an extremely wide variety of treatments ultimately needed to cure the symptom. Your physician will likely attempt to cure the root cause of your pulsatile tinnitus, which should make the annoying and disruptive sound go away.

For example, if a patient’s pulsatile tinnitus is due to cancer, they may undergo chemotherapy or surgery. If it is due to hypertension, certain medications may help lower a patient’s blood pressure.

However, it is not always possible to cure pulsatile tinnitus by treating the underlying cause. Sometimes, a physician may be unable to identify the underlying cause, which makes it impposible to effectively treat. In other circumstances, the underlying cause is sadly an untreatable condition, and the pulsatile tinnitus is likely to persist.

Fortunately, even in these cases where the underlying cause is hard to identify or impossible to treat, there are still measures that can be taken to reduce the discomfort due to pulsatile tinnitus. These measures include…

–   Wearable hearing implants, such as hearing aids

–   Sound based therapy to distract you from the sound

–   Therapy with a licensed counselor

Main Takeaway

Your health is not to be taken lightly. If you or someone you know is experiencing a pulse sound or sensation in either or both of your ears, particularly while at rest, it is imperative that medical care is sought promptly. It may be the sign of a much more dangerous and even life-threatening condition.