Pulsatile Tinnitus – Your Heartbeat or Something Else?

Visit to an ENT

A pulsing, swooshing or whooshing sound in the ear, usually just one side, is called pulsatile tinnitus. Many times this may sound like a heartbeat in your ear. Many times you are in fact hearing your heartbeat or turbulent blood flow through the vessels that passed through your skull near your ear. These blood vessels are only a few millimeters away from the hearing apparatus so it does not take very much for you to start hearing the blood flow.

Sometimes pulsatile tinnitus refers to a clicking or popping in that you are that happen spontaneously. This is a completely different condition. In this case it will feel like clicking popping or snapping in your ear, again usually just one side. This may be a spasm of some of the small muscles inside the ear.

Persisting pulsatile tinnitus that sounds like a heartbeat usually deserves further workup. Problems with blood vessels, such as blood clots, aneurysm, or dissection may be discovered. Sometimes there may be thinning of the membranes surrounding the anterior and you could be hearing the pulsations from your brain fluid and meninges (brain lining). Rarely tumors may also present with a pulsatile tinnitus, including glomus tympanicum, glomus jugulare, or tumors next to the brain impacting the hearing nerves.

Workup for persistent pulsatile tinnitus includes a good evaluation of the ear physically, in addition to hearing function, speech discrimination, bone conduction and tympanometry. Angiography, CT, or MRI imaging may be recommended depending what we find to try to sort out the cause.

Anxiety about Hearing Loss?

Unfortunately, there is no way to completely avoid hearing loss. However, there is a way for you to lessen the embarrassment that comes with hearing loss. Remember, like any other disability, you should not be embarrassed. Your life will go on, and there is always a solution. This article will give you more tips.

Anxiety and embarrassment about hearing those are probably what keep people away from our office. Many people are very nervous to admit their difficulties. They also feel it is a sign of aging.

It is hard for me to reverse the entire stigma related to hearing aids, but it is clear that the adults who cannot hear and communicate well is definitely thought of as being older and more feeble. In these cases it’s even more important to get the hearing restored.

Basically half of all elderly adults have hearing loss, and one in five adults over the age of 50 have significant hearing loss that impairs their daily life. Let’s get to fixing it!

Answer That Ringing Ear!

If you are one of the millions of people who has experienced tinnitus at some point in your life, you know that it is a problem that you want solved quickly. Tinnitus is the condition of hearing noises when no sound is actually present. It can be a ringing, hissing, whistling, or clicking noise. It can come and go or be constantly present.

Tinnitus accounts for hundreds of thousands of doctor visits yearly. About 10% of patients who experience tinnitus will visit the doctor, and about 10% of those will have ongoing problems. Medication‘s can be tried but none are proven. Usually we will screen for depression, anxiety, or musculoskeletal problems.

Sound therapy is one of the more effective means for treating tinnitus. First and foremost, correct in hearing loss is very important. Correct and any other identified medical problems can also be very important.

Tinnitus can be a troubling condition that can keep you up at night, withdraw you from family activities, and interfere with your workplace production. There are treatments, let’s help to guide you through them!

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Noise induced hearing loss is prevalent in our society, affecting tens of millions of Americans. Exposure to loud noises either very loud all at once, or moderately loud over a long period of time, can cause a characteristic noise related hearing loss. Over long period of time we can actually have quite severe hearing loss at numerous frequencies. However, a sudden noise induced hearing drop will often present a decline at 4000 Hz and 6000 Hz.

These are fairly high frequencies, not directly used in person to person speech, however damage to this zone of the hearing organ, the cochlea, can cause a lot of problems with hearing In background noise.  Difficulty in hearing when in noisy background situations is in fact one of the first signs of a high and medium frequency hearing loss.
Other early signs of this type of nerve hearing loss may include difficulty in hearing women’s voices, children’s voices, or those with an accent other than your own.  Many people will also have difficulty using the telephone or listening to a television across the room.
Noise induced hearing loss may occur suddenly like after a gunshot or a loud concert. You may experience a ringing in the ears or sound of hollowness in your ears. Hopefully this will clear up, but often it does not fully resolve. Many times the hearing loss from the loud noise event is permanent nerve damage.
From a medical standpoint, corticosteroid medications can be given which may help to curb some of the damage.  Certain vitamins have also shown to be a little bit effective.
If you do experiences sudden change in hearing, or suspect you may have a gradual noise related here in damage, I recommend that we get in for a full hearing evaluation with either an audiologist for an ear nose and throat physician.

Hearing Loss Doubles Dementia Risk

This study was published in JAMA Open Access last month and is one of the largest rigorous population based studies on the topic. This research comes on the heels of other mounting evidence that hearing loss can worsen or promote dementia.

A recent study of over 16,000 adults found that hearing loss was positively correlated to the development of dementia in adults. The 45-64 year age group was the most strongly impacted showing a more than DOUBLE RISK of dementia if there was significant untreated hearing decline noted. The study took great care to account for differences in gender, normal age changes, and socioeconomic level.

What does this mean? It is becoming clear that hearing screening should occur at earlier ages, that hearing complaints should be taken more seriously by healthcare gatekeepers (primary care) and that more aggressive auditory rehabilitation is indicated.

The mechanisms of cognitive decline and hearing change are not well understood. In a simplistic form, we use a hearing test called “word discrimination” that we know seems to worsen with cognitive decline and can radpily decline when the ears are not being stimulated. In other words, if we are not hearing well we are not stimulating parts of our brain, and our brain cells do poorly when not stimulated – ‘USE IT OR LOSE IT’.

Our audiologists and associated physicians are all up-to-speed on cognitive risks of early hearing loss and untreated hearing loss. Middle-aged professionals will notice loss early as their daily communication is impacted, finding increased distractibility (reduced focus) at work. This can cause secondary stress.

Tinnitus Relief

There’s new hope for tinnitus relief

Tinnitus (“TIN-a-tus” or “Tin-EYE-tus”) is the medical term for the sensation of hearing sound in your ears or head when no external sound is present. In most cases, tinnitus is a subjective noise, meaning only the sufferer can hear it. Typically, sufferers describe the sound as “ringing in ears,” though others describe it as hissing, buzzing, whistling, roaring and even chirping.

The affects of tinnitus are real

Because tinnitus is subjective, it affects people in different ways. For some, it’s a minor annoyance that does not require help or treatment. For others, it can cause a host of serious issues, including:

  • Long-term sleep disruption
  • Changes in cognitive ability
  • An inability to concentrate (e.g. completing tasks or reading)
  • Stress in relationships
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Employment challenges

There is no cure for tinnitus…

Currently, there is no known tinnitus cure. No pill or surgery has been shown to eliminate tinnitus in any scientific or clinically accepted study.

…but there is relief

According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), there are ways to get tinnitus relief. One of the most effective ways is sound therapy, which uses sound to make tinnitus less noticeable and take the person’s mind off it.

Amplification from hearing aids is one component of sound therapy that has been shown to provide relief. A new Tinnitus Treatment Solution from Starkey Hearing Technologies is another well-regarded sound therapy device designed to bring personalized relief to tinnitus sufferers.

The ATA recommends that anyone with tinnitus should see an audiologist or ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT) experienced in tinnitus treatment.

Are you a candidate for relief?

Advanced Hearing Centers and Advanced Ear Nose & Throat Associates has experience helping people with tinnitus, and are trained in the sound therapy treatments discussed above. If you, a friend or a family member experience tinnitus, see if you’re a candidate for relief by submitting your information on our Contact Us page today.

Hearing Loss & Employment

Hearing loss and employment success

Recently, the non-profit Better Hearing Institute took a close look at the impact untreated hearing loss has on the workplace — and its workforce. What they discovered was intriguing. Untreated hearing loss affected worker’s earnings, and even employment rates.

They found*:

  • People with untreated hearing loss lose up to $30,000 income annually, depending on their degree of loss.
  • People with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids are nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as peers who use them.
  • For people with milder hearing loss, the use of hearing aids reduces the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent.

Make sure you’re working at the level you want to be.

Advanced Hearing Centers helps individuals with hearing loss difficulties. If you feel that you or a loved one are struggling with hearing loss, we encourage you to take the first step to better hearing and make an appointment for a free consultation today. Simply go to our Contact Us page and submit your information and we will be in touch within one business day.

*The dollars and sense of addressing hearing loss in the workplace. McClatchy Newspapers, June 2012

Hearing Loss & The Holidays

Hearing Loss and the Holidays

During this busy time of year families tend to get together and sometimes it is a frustrating time for the hearing impaired. Lots of people talking all at once, dishes either being prepared or eaten, small children’s voices, the football bowl games blaring at a loud level and so on.
What is this like when you have hearing loss? Unfortunately many hearing impaired individuals tend to withdraw and sit in the corner while the rest of the family enjoys all the activity. They don’t want to ask everyone to repeat everything, they miss part of the words and are frustrated that they can’t follow the topic so it’s just easier for them to sit silently.
How can we help our family members to enjoy these special family gatherings? Some strategies to try:

  • When starting a new dialogue with the person make sure you say their name and make sure they look at you and realize you are about to say something to them.
  • Try to always look at them, don’t turn your back during the conversation even though you are busy doing numerous activities.
  • Minimize the TV volume, water running, pots being banged when trying to communicate with each other.
  • Don’t try to talk to them from another room or while walking away. Our houses have changed over the years and while aesthetically we may prefer the high ceilings, the walls of windows, the open rooms, the hard flooring and lack of drapes we have made it a more difficult situation for our hearing impaired family. With the changes in our environment we have made it harder for the acoustics to be optimal.

Another consideration is that we hear with our ears but we process sound in our brain. This ability to process quickly and correctly tends to slow with age and more so when a hearing loss has been left untreated for any period of time. Sometimes our loved one needs just a second or two longer before they respond to a question. If they don’t understand what was said it is sometimes better to rephrase the sentence instead of just repeating it louder.
If your family member wears hearing aids, remember-Hearing Aids are not cures, they are aids. Your family member may still have difficulty in certain situations and with certain voices. Be patient, don’t belittle them or leave them out of the activities. Hearing Aids also are not one size/programming fits all. Make sure to follow up with your audiologist and give them specific examples of situations where you experience difficulties.
Most of all, enjoy your time together and make lots of good memories.
-Dr. Lyn Rushton

Hearing Improvement with Games

Utilize Games to Sharpen Your Hearing

When hearing loss occurs, the brain loses its ability to interpret sounds. In addition to reduced ability to detect sound, hearing loss damages your ability to process many aspects of the auditory world. You may find it more difficult to filter out background noise, locate a sound source, or remember a verbal sequence of information.

While hearing aids can restore the world of sound to those who have suffered from hearing loss they cannot restore these lost auditory perceptual skills. Fortunately, the patient can bring back those skills through practice.

Research indicates that participation in an auditory training program during the initial weeks of wearing new hearing aids significantly increases the wearers’ perception of benefit, and overall satisfaction,.

Hear Coach is a suite of listening games developed by Starkey Hearing Technologies designed to help hearing aid wearers sharpen their listening and hearing skills. Available for the iPad, iPhone and Android systems, it features games that challenge both your cognitive and auditory sharpness.

Hear Coach allows you to track your progress over time and unlock more difficult levels as your performance improves. A different background noise stimulus within each of the levels provides you with varying degrees of difficulty to help you train your auditory system in different environments. This app is designed to help people who think they might have a hearing loss, people who have new hearing aids, and even experienced hearing aid users who want to get the most out of their listening.

If you are experiencing hearing difficulties, be sure to call Lyn or Alan today at Advanced Hearing Centers (404) 924-4510 today for a complimentary hearing screen and Hear Coach demonstration.

Nuts and Bolts of a Hearing Aid

How a Hearing Aid Works

In its simplest form, a hearing aid is an amplifier that makes sound louder. Today’s hearing aids do much more than that, but they wouldn’t help much if they didn’t amplify. Let’s take a look at basic elements that make amplification possible.


A microphone converts sound into an electrical digital signal.


An amplifier increases the strength of that signal.


A speaker/receiver converts the amplified signal back into sound and sends it to the inner ear. The brain “hears” and understands the sounds.


Hearing aids require power to amplify sound. An inexpensive and convenient source is a battery. Hearing aid batteries come in five sizes, which are based on the style and size of the hearing aid.

Of course, hearing aids do much more than just amplify sound. They also improve hearing in difficult situations with advanced technology features like feedback elimination and the ability to hear better on the phone. Wireless hearing aids also allow you to wirelessly connect to your favorite devices like TVs, music, phones and more

To learn more about different hearing aid options, contact Kim at Advanced Hearing Centers’ front desk, (404) 943-900 today.