If you have a thumping or whooshing sounds in one or both ears that seems to follow a steady beat, you may have this rare form of tinnitus. Unlike regular tinnitus, with the pulsatile form of this condition, the noise comes from inside your body. Your doctor may be able to hear it too, if they listen with a stethoscope.
The main symptom of pulsatile tinnitus is hearing a sound in your ears that appears to match your heartbeat or pulse. You may even be able to take your pulse while you’re hearing the sound in your ears. You may also notice heart palpitations or feelings of lightheadedness. You should have these symptoms evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.
There are many possible causes for the pulsing sound associated with pulsatile tinnitus, but they all stem from circulation issues. Among the most common causes are:
The first step if you think you’re experiencing pulsatile tinnitus is to contact and arrange to see your doctor. Your exam will start with a review of your symptoms and your medical history.
The doctor will probably use a stethoscope to listen to your chest, neck, and skull. If your doctor can also hear a pulsatile noise, you have objective pulsatile tinnitus. If not, it’s labeled as subjective pulsatile tinnitus. You’ll also have hearing tests to determine whether there has been any hearing loss in one or both ears.
Thankfully, pulsatile tinnitus is often treated by addressing the underlying cause. High blood pressure and vein and artery conditions can usually be treated with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes, including: