Is Your Tinnitus Pulsating In Your Ears?

Many people understand tinnitus as a distinct ringing in one’s ear or ears. Indeed, the term “tinnitus” comes from the Latin for “ringing.” But, that doesn’t mean that all manifestations of tinnitus are alike. Pulsatile tinnitus differs from the regular “ringing” sensation of traditional tinnitus in that is rhythmic and often follows the pulsing sound of your heartbeat. There are a number of reasons that pulsatile tinnitus can occur, ranging from benign to potentially dangerous. If you can hear or feel youru tinnitus pulsating, a condition commonly referred to as “pulsating tinnitus,” you should seek the help of your physician to determine the cause.

What are the Signs of Pulsating Tinnitus?

Pulsating (or, pulsatile) tinnitus is characterized by a sort of “thumping” noise. It can follow the patterns of your beating heart, the steps you’re taking, or even your breath. You’ll frequently notice it when there is an absence of external noise, such as when you are trying to sleep. For some people, pulsatile tinnitus can be unbearable and can often lead to poor sleeping habits, decreased activity, and potential depression. If you feel like you can hear the beating of your heart in your ears, then you probably have pulsatile tinnitus.

Again, this is different from the regular form of tinnitus which manifests itself usually as a “ringing” or “whistling” noise. Either form of tinnitus can be debilitating and can force you to make changes in your lifestyle. It’s important to be able to distinguish between the two so that you can let your doctor know exactly what’s going on with your ears.

Causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus

Obviously, the major causes of pulsatile tinnitus have little to do with the actual function of the ear. In fact, most of the time, the circulatory system is the main cause of pulsatile tinnitus. In many cases, there is nothing particularly off-kilter in many patients whose tinnitus is pulsating. That’s because pulsatile tinnitus is often an unfortunately enhanced awareness of the blood flow that goes in and around your ears. This is obviously difficult to treat and diagnose, because it is essentially the involuntary recognition of sound. Your brain is recognizing that the pulsing sound in your ear is something that it needs to pay attention to. Getting your brain to stop focusing on that noise is certainly difficult to say the least.

But, pulsatile tinnitus also has some more pernicious causes that necessitate a trip to the doctor. It can be a sign of increased blood flow which, itself, could be a sign of high blood pressure. Pregnancy, overactive thyroid, and anemia can all also be causes of increased blood flow and more awareness of the sound (not that pregnancy is pernicious in most cases). Blood vessel tumors near the ear can also cause issues with pulsating tinnitus. These aren’t the only examples of pulsatile tinnitus causes, but they serve to illustrate the need for physician involvement.

Treatments for Pulsatile Tinnitus

Of course, there is no single treatment for pulsating tinnitus because there are a number of different underlying causes. In most cases, the underlying cause needs to be treated before the tinnitus can be adequately fixed. For instance, if you simply have high blood pressure, then you might need to change your diet and exercise habits. Obviously, if you’re pregnant, then you will likely already know, but you should still let your doctor take a look.

The other, less obvious causes of pulsatile tinnitus can be difficult to treat. If your doctor runs several tests and they find that you don’t have any of the aforementioned problems, then the pulsatile tinnitus could be “all in your head.” That doesn’t mean that it’s any less serious, however. Again, pulsatile tinnitus can cause poor performance at work or other everyday duties, poor sleeping habits, and limited or substandard socialization. All of these naturally lend themselves to psychological disorders like depression and anxiety.

In some cases, the pulsating tinnitus will just disappear on its own as your brain manages to focus less on the noise. For some sufferers, however, the thumping noise can persist and even increase over time. If that is the case, then you might have to employ some brain retraining techniques. Obviously, there was a point in your life when you started hearing the pulsing noises. It’s likely that these noises were always there; your brain just didn’t pay attention to them beforehand. The idea behind retraining techniques is to get your brain back to its natural perceptive state (or, the state it was in prior to the occurrence of pulsatile tinnitus).
As it stands, pulsating tinnitus can be one of the most aggravating disorders, especially considering there really is no surefire cure. The fact that it can be a sign of more pressing disorders is also cause for concern. In any case, you should always see your doctor at the first sign of pulsatile tinnitus.