Is It Worrisome To Hear A Pulse In My Ear? What Do I Need To Know?

Ranjeet KumarReviewed by Mr. Ranjeet Kumar Sr. Audiologist, Speech Therapist & Cochlear Implant Specialist, BASLP on Sep 17th, 2019 written by Editorial Team
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Do you hear the pulsating sound, throbbing in the ear or the rhythmic beat in your one or both ears? If so, Pulsing in the ear could be a warning that you might be suffering from Pulsatile Tinnitus.

In medical terms, it is a condition where a person generally feels and hears the thumping sound in their ears, as though it was their heart beating.

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As we have already been explained in the previous articles about Tinnitus, it is a common condition where the person hears amplified noises and also suffers pain in the ears.

It may be temporary, but, if not treated immediately, this may sometimes result in permanently damaging the ears.

For instance, the person suffering from Tinnitus may suffer from hearing loss, if it is left untreated. Also, this type of condition can occur in infants, children, adults and the aged as well.

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Some people often take this condition of the ear in a way that hearing of such rhythmic beating may indicate that the person is going crazy.

But, this is not the case. It is only a feared thought which gets developed in the person’s mind and makes him or her think that way.

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Therefore, this article will explain why this ear condition occurs, its symptoms and what you can do in order to properly treat or prevent such a condition from occurring again.


Why You Hear Sounds in Your Ear

pulsatile tinnitus

The sounds that occur in the ears are usually hard to bear by persons who are largely affected by such type of ear condition.

Tinnitus is the general term which is given to certain conditions of the ear like the hearing of high-pitched sounds in the form of buzz, clicks, pop and much more.

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At present, there are various healthcare institutions which have reported cases of Tinnitus in over 70 million people in western countries only.

However, there are more cases of this type of ear condition with a major toll hitting the parts of African and Asian countries.

Pulsating Tinnitus often share common reasons for its cause. However, in addition to the common causes, there are other reasons as well that play a vital role in affecting a person’s hearing condition.


Causes of Pulsating Tinnitus

As you know, pulsatile tinnitus is one of the main reasons that you hear different kinds of sound in your ears. Now let’s take a look on following causes of pulsatile tinnitus:

1. Conductive Hearing Loss

One of the main reasons that cause Pulsating Tinnitus in a person is a conductive hearing loss. This is mainly caused by the inflammation in the ear, perforated eardrum or the middle ear and its little bones (malleus, incus, and stapes).

2. Carotid Artery Disease

Carotid Artery Disease

The carotid artery is either of the two major arteries supplying blood to the head and neck and its disease or disorder may lead to Pulsating Tinnitus in the affected persons.

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During this condition, the persons hear rhythmic noises in both the ears, or either one of them.

3. High Blood Pressure

A significant rise in the blood pressure increases the force of the blood against the inner walls of the arteries thus, causing what is commonly called Pulsating Tinnitus.

So, a person who is suffering from such a disorder, he or she may hear sounds in either any or both the ears. Stress, caffeine, and alcohol make the pulsating sound in-ear more noticeable.

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4. Blood Vessel Disorders

The blood vessels help in the proper circulation of blood throughout the human body. However, if there is an abnormality in the flowing of the blood, or if there is some kind of a blockage in the arteries which could be due to the level of cholesterol, fats, etc., may cause the flow of blood to become turbulent.

Thus, you may also start hearing certain strange sounds in your ears due to these blood vessel disorders.

5. Anemia

Another cause may be due to anemia or overactive thyroid gland, where the flow of blood becomes quick and loud. Thus, you get to hear the distracting noise of the pumping of blood in your ear.

6. Head or Neck Tumors

head and neck tumour

A tumor that is pressed against a vein either in and around the neck or the head may also cause pulsatile tinnitus and the person may hear sounds which are not heard by others, except him or her.

Due to these tumors, blood flow increases in just one or one group of vessels. It can lead to the development of abnormal blood vessels, which can result in pulsatile tinnitus.

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7. Connection Problems Between Arteries and Veins

arteriovenous malformation

This condition, called arteriovenous malformation, generally affects only one ear. Pulsatile tinnitus is a result of the abnormal connection between arteries and veins.

8. Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis

This is a hardening of your arteries. As cholesterol and other fats clog your blood vessels, they grow less flexible. That makes blood flowing near your middle and inner ear move with more force, like water through a narrowed streambed.

You’ll usually hear it in both ears. It leads to the turbulent blood flow.

9. Localized Blood Flow

Sometimes blood flow is increased in a single blood vessel or in a group of blood vessels rather than a generalized increase. For example, during fetal development, we all have an artery in our middle ear called the stapedial artery.

This normally closes before birth but it can occasionally persist and in this case, blood flow adjacent to middle ear structures can generate pulsatile tinnitus.

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10. Benign or Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension

Benign or idiopathic intracranial hypertension

Benign or idiopathic intracranial hypertension is characterized by headaches and visual disturbance as well as pulsatile tinnitus. This is said to occur most frequently in overweight young or middle-aged women.

However, it can occur at any age and in men as well as women. It is a condition that consists of high pressure in the fluid around the brain.

11. Venous Sinus Diverticulum

Venous sinus diverticulum

A small abnormal pouch on the wall of the vein transmits sound to the ear.

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Complications Caused By Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsating Tinnitus may cause further complications in the affected person, such as:

  • Sleeping problems
  • Difficulty in concentration or focus
  • Lack of energy
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Weight gain
  • Other metabolism issues

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Pulsating Tinnitus, although it may be a common disorder of the ears, yet you should not neglect it and take proper treatment immediately in order to avoid any further complexities or even loss of hearing permanently.

The most common symptom you can feel of having the heartbeat in your ear. It can lead to ear pain, the continuous ringing of the ear and ear infections.


Common Symptoms Shown During Early Stages of Pulsating Tinnitus

The main symptom of Pulsating Tinnitus is the hearing of the heartbeat or pulse-like sound in the ear, sometimes, in both the ears. Apart from this, there could also be other probable symptoms that the affected may show such as:

  • A headache
  • Dizziness
  • Vision problems
  • The loss in body weight
  • Partial loss of hearing

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If you are observing these symptoms, you should not ignore it. As your ignorance on a temporary basis can cause permanent hearing impairment. Now the question is, “What to do if these symptoms are disturbing your daily life”.

First, visit your nearest healthcare institutions and discuss with them. They will guide you on how to prevent yourself from the existing problem.


Diagnosis

In order to properly diagnose these pulsating sounds, you are required to visit a healthcare institution. It is also advised that you make an appointment with your doctor if you think that you are experiencing this sort of a problem in your ears.

Diagnosis includes the following activities from the audiologist side.

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The doctor may ask various questions related to your symptoms and their effects on your daily life. They can ask whether your ringing sound is continuous or it affects one or both ears.

What additional problems you are facing due to this pulsating tinnitus?

What medicines or drugs you are taking on a temporary basis for your hearing problems and since how much time? Whether you are experiencing side effects due to these medications or not?

The audiologist will examine your ears outside and inside to check if there is any infection or accumulation of earwax. As they are the main cause of pulsating tinnitus.

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When you seek a doctor, your symptoms as well as your medical history, if any, will be reviewed for a successful diagnosis.

Usually, it becomes essential to perform a couple of tests in order to study and understand the problem in the affected person.

Common procedures of Diagnostic tests

  • Magnetic Resonance Angiography – It helps to produce images of the inside of arteries or veins and can show up irregularities or narrowing of the vessel.
  • MRI and CT Scan – This produces pictures of the head and inner ears using magnetic fields rather than X-rays.
  • Ultrasound – Modern ultrasound scanning uses a technique called Doppler, which can show the blood flow within the blood vessels in the neck.
  • Angiography – This is a way of looking inside of vessels by injecting a contrast medium into the vessel under investigation and taking a conventional X-ray.
  • Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) – It measures how your brain processes the sounds you hear. The BAER test records your brainwaves in response to clicks or other audio tones that are played for you.
  • Electrocochleography – It uses electrodes placed in the eardrum.
  • Computerized Tomography – It uses computer-controlled X-rays to generate detailed images of the body.
  • Blood Test – Test of full blood count, thyroid function tests or anemia.

In addition to the procedure mentioned above, there may also be tests with regards to blood pressure and given a blood test to check for possible thyroid disease.

Diagnosis reveals the specific cause of pulsatile tinnitus on the basis of tests and observations. Now the doctor can suggest various treatment methods on the basis of the results of the diagnostic test.

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Treatment of Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsating Tinnitus is often treated by addressing the underlying causes. The doctor will determine the specific cause of your problem.

Afterward, he will suggest various methods for curing it. Your treatment will depend on the cause of your problem. If Anemia is the main cause of your problem, then doctors will suggest certain medications and blood transfusion.

Secretory otitis media may be treated with a tympanostomy tube or grommet. Ruptured eardrums can be closed with grafts, and narrowed segments of an artery can be repaired.

Surgery is suggested in case of repair of blood vessels.

High blood pressure, veins and arteries conditions can usually be treated through medications and also by bringing certain changes in your lifestyle, some of which may include:

  • Regular exercise and a balanced diet
  • No smoking and alcohols
  • Release stress
  • Eat a diet that is low in sodium
  • Proper sleeping position
  • Use Ear protection devices
  • Keep wearing appropriate hearing aids

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Self Management Techniques

1. Sound Therapy It is a form of distraction. It involves the use of sound to distract you from tinnitus. For this, the person should try to listen to the environmental sound, music, radio songs, sound generators, etc.

2. Relaxation Relaxations causes desirable changes in the body like, drop in the heart rate, blood pressure and brain activity. Relaxation exercises like breathing exercises, mindfulness, and meditation, may reduce the impact of pulsatile tinnitus on your everyday life.

3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy  It is a method or approach in which behavioral changes are initiated by a therapist and professional to help patients for their comfort and to make changes to their irrational thoughts and beliefs which is known as maladaptive behaviors. Its aim is to change the way of the people reacting to the tinnitus rather than removing actual sounds.

4. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy  TRT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy) is the process of learning to deal with your tinnitus at a conscious and subconscious level. It requires close co-operation with hearing professionals. The therapy is employed at the perceived source of the tinnitus and aims to teach the brain to ignore it. TRT reflects the practical implementation of the neurophysiological model of tinnitus.

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Conclusion

The outlook of Pulsating Tinnitus depends on the underlying causes and most of the conditions can be treated with medication. Also, maintaining a hygienic lifestyle is equally crucial for one’s well-being.

Therefore, you should be aware of the sounds outside the ear as well as inside the ear. The thumping sounds or abnormal sounds within the ear is an indication of your hearing problems.

Thus, consult your audiologist as soon as possible.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, just give us a call on 1800-121-4408 or visit HearingSol Clinic in Delhi NCR. We are always glad to help you.
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“Prevention is better than cure”. Therefore you should be conscious of the problems of hearing, its causes and its effects in your daily life. Pulsating tinnitus is curable dependent on underlying causes. You should not ignore it and immediately proceed to the healthcare professions to prevent the situation from becoming worse.

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