Tinnitus and Pulsatile Tinnitus: What You Need to Know

Discover the connection between tinnitus and ear wax buildup. Find out why cleaning your ears can reduce the severity of Tinnitus.

Tinnitus is a condition where an individual hears sound such as buzzing, ringing, whistling, and clicking, even in the absence of external sound.  


  1. Exposure to loud noise over short or long period
  2. Age-related hearing loss due to structures in the ear being less flexible
  3. Earwax blockage blocks the sound waves from travelling through the ear canal properly
  4. Ear infections can cause inflammation and damage to the structures in the ear
  5. Certain medications such as antibiotics, antidepressants, and aspirin
  6. Meniere’s disease can affect the inner ear and cause associated dizziness
  7. Head or neck injuries, head or neck injuries can cause damage to the structures in the ear

Pulsatile tinnitus is a specific type of tinnitus that is characterized by a rhythmic sound, usually in time with the individual’s heartbeat. 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:

  • Ear wax or infection blockages
  • Strenuous exercise
  • Pregnancy
  • Severe anemia or low iron in the blood
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • 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

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 Tinnitus and Pulsatile Tinnitus treated?

The underlying cause must be treated. High blood pressure and artery conditions can usually be treated with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes including:

  • Ease off on alcohol and caffeine: these can temporarily worsen tinnitus for some people.
  • Do some regular exercise:  this can help you to ignore it and better cope with it.
  • Finally, accept it as part of you and understand that it will wax and wane during your life.

Cindy Morris, Registered Nurse Education Coordinator

http://Pulsatile Tinnitus https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/aging-pulsatile-tinnitus#2 https://www1.racgp.org.au/ajgp/2018/april/tinnitus