Patients with non-pulsatile tinnitus often complain of hearing a ringing, buzzing, whooshing, hissing, clicking, roaring or whistling sound that no one else around them can hear.
Pulsatile Tinnitus Symptoms
In contrast, the sounds you hear in your head when you have pulsatile tinnitus, are those of a human heartbeat or pulse. This can easily be validated by checking your own pulse at the same time as listening to your tinnitus. Some people only hear it in one ear, while others hear it both.
Pulsatile Tinnitus Causes
Being able to successfully identify the cause of your tinnitus a rare event, but it gets slightly easier if you have pulsatile tinnitus. This is due to the fact that the heartbeat sound you hear with this form of objective tinnitus is often being generated by a change in blood flow in the large arteries and veins in the neck and base of the skull, as well as the smaller veins that are in your ear.
This change in blood flow can be caused by strenuous exercise or pregnancy, which can cause blood flow to increase dramatically in the body. The faster your blood flows through your body, the more sound it makes. Severe anaemia or an overactive thyroid gland have also been shown to increase blood flow enough to cause pulsatile tinnitus.
However, the most common cause of pulsatile tinnitus is a condition known as atherosclerosis, in which natural aging, combined with a buildup of cholesterol and other deposits, causes the major blood vessels close to your inner ear and middle ear to lose some of their elasticity. This new lack of elactisity prevents the blood vessels from expanding oh so slightly with each and every heartbeat, resulting in the blood having to be forced through the vessels, which makes it easier for your ears to detect the beats.
There are also rare occurrences of a single blood vessel or a group of blood vessels experiencing increased blood flow that the rest of the body is not experiencing. This can cause pulsatile tinnitus when that blood flow is occurring adjacent to the structures of your middle ear.
Another potential cause of this localized increased flow of blood could be due to a benign tumor known as an acoustic neuroma (AKA vestibular schwannoma). These tumors, although very rare, can cause the development of abnormal blood vessels which can result in pulsatile tinnitus.
Pulsatile Tinnitus Treatment Options
While there may be no cure for tinnitus, there are a multitude of pulsatile tinnitus treatments available to us these days that make the heartbeat sound you hear dissipate dramatically.
Tinnitus Treatment Recommendation