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Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile Tinnitus: What Is It and the Causes?

For many people with tinnitus, they hear a ringing or buzzing. However, those with pulsatile tinnitus are more likely to hear the sound of their own heartbeat and may also hear a whooshing sound at each pulse. If you've ever experienced a sudden shock or a hard jolt and felt or heard your pulse pounding in your head, you may know what pulsatile tinnitus sounds like.

Understanding Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is not a constant ringing, beeping, or buzzing. Depending on changes in your heart rate, your pulsatile tinnitus may become more intense as you exercise or when your pulse increases.

Those who suffer from pulsatile tinnitus are oddly reminded of their own mortality. The sound of your heartbeat may be comforting, but sudden jumps in your pulse or a sudden drop in the consistency of the sound may be quite unnerving.

Causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus

Atherosclerosis, or "hardening" of the arteries, can contribute to pulsatile tinnitus. If you have high cholesterol or smoke, you may experience difficulties with the condition.

Head injuries also increase your risk of tinnitus, which pulsatile tinnitus can further impact. The blood vessels near your ears can be affected by auditory injury or head trauma, which can increase your risk of pulsatile tinnitus.

Tinnitus can also develop should you suffer tumors near the workings of the inner ear. Because these tumors have their own blood supply, the whooshing sound of blood moving through such tumors can lead to a rhythmic rise and fall.

Thorough ear care is also important for those who struggle with pulsatile tinnitus. If your ears are blocked by earwax, the sound of your own heartbeat may become disturbingly loud.

Diagnosing Pulsatile Tinnitus

When a physician checks your ears, they may use a stethoscope on the outside of your skull near the ear. They may be able to hear at least a portion of the sound, which can impact your ability to focus, communicate, and sleep.

If you already struggle with traditional tinnitus, it's important to note that the ringing or beeping you may have heard for years will come and go. If it is not steady, like the beat of your heart, it's unlikely that you are struggling with pulsatile tinnitus.

Treatment Options

There are preventative steps you can take to avoid developing pulsatile tinnitus. Even if you have no concerns about tinnitus, a diet and exercise routine to help you avoid atherosclerosis is a wise choice. Avoid smoking and vaping, and do your best to manage your blood sugar if you are diabetic.

To avoid head injuries, building a steady habit of helmet use and ear protection is also a wise choice to prevent traumatic head and ear injuries.

Simple ear cleaning habits and checking your ears at each physical can also help.

Living with Pulsatile Tinnitus

Your pulsatile tinnitus may make it hard to sleep or concentrate. Consider using a white noise machine; for some, the whooshing sound can be a bit like the crackle of static. A noise machine can match this and lower your discomfort.

Manage your stress with regular activity and meditation. Even if you can't quiet the tinnitus, you can soothe your mind and gain some control over the speed of your pulse.

Discuss the sounds with your doctor if you're concerned about pulsatile tinnitus. The specialists at Beltone Dallas Fort Worth can also give you tips on hearing what you need to know and ignoring other sounds. Regular health checkups and ear care are critical to protecting yourself from the frustration of pulsatile tinnitus.