Tinnitus is a condition in which an individual hears sound, for example, buzzing, ringing,
whistling and clicking, in the absence of external sound. The sound may be constantly present
or it might disappear and return.
Pulsatile tinnitus is a form of tinnitus in which a rhythmical sound is heard that’s usually in time
with the person’s heart rate. It is an amplified sound of blood circulating through the arteries
and often sounds like a whooshing or thumping. It can occur in one ear or both.
Pulsatile tinnitus can be caused by a range of factors, but sometimes there’s no identifiable
cause. The major causes of pulsatile tinnitus include a change in blood flow or a change in
perception of that blood flow.
Some causes of pulsatile tinnitus are:
- Strenuous exercise
- Severe anaemia or low iron in the blood
- High blood pressure
- Atherosclerosis (fatty plaques in the blood vessels of the neck)
- A kinked or narrowed neck artery
- An injury to the head or neck
- Ear wax or infection
What should I do if I suspect I have Pulsatile Tinnitus?
- See your GP
- You will have a comprehensive medical history taken
- A stethoscope will be used to listen to your head, neck and skull
- Your blood pressure will be checked
- You may possibly require further testing such as blood tests, audiometry, imaging tests. such as ultrasound, CT or MRI of the brain and blood vessels
- You may be referred to an Otolaryngologist for further assessment
How is Pulsatile Tinnitus treated?
The underlying cause must be treated. High blood pressure and vein & artery conditions can usually be treated with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes including:
- A low salt diet
- Regular exercise
- No smoking
- Stress reduction
Depending on the cause, different treatment options may be required and your Doctor can
discuss these with you.