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Pulsatile Tinnitus (When your Heart Beats in your Ears)

When you sit up suddenly, do you often hear your heart beat pounding in your ears? Pulsatile tinnitus is a condition that causes unusual whooshing or thumping sounds in one or both ears. Read more about several causes of pulsatile tinnitus and treatments that may help.

Pulsatile Tinnitus (When your Heart Beats in your Ears)

Tinnitus types

Tinnitus is a condition which causes you to hear constant noises that have no external source. There are two main types of tinnitus- pulsatile, and non-pulsatile. Pulsatile tinnitus causes a rhythmic pulse that may sound like your heart hammering in your ears, while other tinnitus symptoms sound like constant ear ringing, buzzing, whistling, or screaming noises.

Most tinnitus patients have the non-pulsatile kind, while about 3% suffer from pulsatile tinnitus.

What causes pulsatile tinnitus?

Pulsatile tinnitus usually results from a vascular problem within the ear canals. If you experience frequent beating sounds in your ears for a period of months, then it’s important to see a doctor immediately, in order to rule out possibly life-threatening causes of pulsatile tinnitus.

Causes of pulsatile tinnitus include:

  • Hypertension, either as a comorbid condition or as a side effect of medications for blood pressure
  • Benign Intracranial Hypertension (BIH), sometimes triggered by obesity
  • Benign tumor near the ear, accompanied by hearing loss
  • Blocked arteries disturbing proper blood flow near the ears
  • Frequent ear infections of the middle ear
  • Venous hum resulting from anemia or thyroid disorders
  • Atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries in the head, often from high cholesterol
  • Aneurism in the brain causing blood pressure

Treatments for pulsatile tinnitus

There is no single cure for tinnitus, but by treating the underlying conditions causing tinnitus symptoms, many patients are able to find relief.

Treatment options for pulsatile tinnitus may include:

  • Vitamin B12 supplementation, for treatment of B12 deficiency anemia as a cause of tinnitus
  • Nutritional herbs, minerals, and vitamins that promote healthy vascular functioning, good circulation
  • Surgery, for removal of brain tumor or lesion, or straightening of contorted arteries
  • Low-salt diet, for hypertension-related tinnitus
  • Weight loss, if buildup of ear fluid from BIH is a tinnitus cause
  • Change of medications for hypertension, with doctor’s approval
  • Natural therapies for ear health that also sustain healthy sinus conditions


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Like this? Read more:

4 Reasons for Depression and Tinnitus

Understanding Tinnitus- What does it All Mean?

Tinnitus: Mayo Clinic

BTA: Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile Tinnitus as the Sole Manifestation of an Internal Carotid Artery Aneurysm Successfully Treated by Coil Embolization

image courtesy of qualitystockphotos


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