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.

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!

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.