If you have ever heard ringing in your ears then you have experienced tinnitus. It is estimated that approximately 50 million people in the United States will have tinnitus. Most of the time it will be just a short tone that is heard during the night when all is quiet. But sometimes the tinnitus can be so severe that it can interfere with sleep and effect hearing. Some people will have pulsatile tinnitus, which means the sound will pulsate in time with your pulse.
Pulsatile tinnitus can produce various types of sounds. You may hear a low pitched booming sound or you may hear a high pitched clicking sound. With this type of tinnitus, you may hear a single beat, or you may hear multiple rhythmic beats. Pulsatile tinnitus is not as common as regular tinnitus. However, it may be easier to spot the cause of pulsatile tinnitus.
For many individuals, the cause of pulsatile tinnitus is noisy blood flow through the arteries in the head and neck. This is usually caused by kinks in the arteries or a build up of plaque. High blood pressure can make this condition worse as the blood is forced through the body.
However, there are other possible causes of this unique type of ringing in the ears.
Possible Causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus
Inflammation or infection of the middle ear.
Whenever you have an infection the body will increase the blood flow to the infected site as part of the healing process. When you have an infection of the middle ear, there may be an increased flow of blood to this section of the ear. Many people with chronic ear infections are able to hear this increased blood flow.
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).
This is an abnormal formation of arteries and veins that can sometimes appear in the brain. When these formations appear near the auditory nerve the pulsating blood flow though these AVMs will cause you to hear a pulsating rhythm.
Carotid artery cavernous sinus fistula.
This is the medical term for a connection between a large artery and a large venous pool located within the cranial cavity. Severe head trauma is usually the cause of this abnormality.
Fluid in the middle ear.
This is the same scenario as the ear infection. The middle ear is usually filled with air. If fluid accumulates in this space due to infection or abnormality then you may develop pulsatile tinnitus.
Tumor of the middle ear.
These are benign tumors commonly referred to as glomus tumors.
This is caused by an increase in blood flow through the jugular vein in the neck. The jugular vein is a large vein that carries blood from the brain back to the heart. On its path to the heart, it crosses the middle ear. Individuals who are pregnant, have thyroid issues or are anemic can have an increase in the blood flow through the jugular vein and therefore experience pulsatile tinnitus.
It is important to remember that pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease itself. It is a symptom of something else that is wrong in your body. Therefore, you need to examine your lifestyle and make a note of any changes that you have gone through recently. Curing pulsatile tinnitus is easy when you take care of the underlying problem that is causing it.