Pulsatile Tinnitus: A Closer Look at Its Impact on Your Well-being

pulsatile tinnitus

Tinnitus is a symptom caused by underlying conditions like ear injury or hearing problems. It comes in various forms. One distinctive variant is pulsatile tinnitus. People with this condition experience constant noise and pulsating sounds that sync with the heartbeat. Unlike tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a rare condition that needs medical attention to recover quickly. This blog post will explore the most common cause of pulsatile tinnitus, its impact, risk factors, and possible treatments of this condition available by a pulsatile tinnitus specialist in the UK.

What is Pulsatile Tinnitus?

Research shows that less than 10% of tinnitus patients experience pulsatile tinnitus. This rare symptom introduces a rhythmic element, and people often experience a ringing sound echoing the heartbeat. On the contrary, while ordinary tinnitus never changes, pulsatile tinnitus repeats the blood flow within arteries near the ear. 

Causes and risk factors

Many individuals often ask what the most common cause of pulsatile tinnitus is. This condition has no primary cause, as pulsatile tinnitus results from several conditions. Here is an overview of some common causes:

  • Vascular Issues

Pulsatile tinnitus could be a sign of a problem in your blood vessels. Conditions like atherosclerosis, when your blood vessels get blocked or narrowed, can cause rough blood flow that creates these sounds. Other issues like arteriovenous malformations or carotid artery disease are also responsible for this condition.

  • High Blood Pressure

When your blood pressure goes up, it can cause a ringing in your ears called pulsatile tinnitus. It occurs because the blood is moving through your arteries forcefully, making a sound that matches your heartbeat.

  • Middle Ear Abnormalities

Problems in the middle ear can cause pulsatile tinnitus. It might happen if the tube that connects the ear to the back of the throat (called the Eustachian tube) is not working correctly or if there are issues with the small bones in the ear.

  • Tumours

Tumours near the ear, affecting blood vessels or the auditory nerve, may lead to pulsatile tinnitus. Examples include glomus tumours and acoustic neuromas.

  • Age-Related Hearing Loss

Gradual hearing loss associated with ageing is a common cause of tinnitus. As the auditory system ages, it may result in changes that lead to the perception of sound.

  • Exposure to Loud Noise

Extended exposure to loud noises, such as those in a noisy workplace or through activities like attending concerts without hearing protection, can damage the delicate inner ear structures and initiate tinnitus symptoms.

How Pulsatile Tinnitus Differs from Other Types

  • Vascular Connection

The sounds in pulsatile tinnitus are directly linked to blood flow, making it essential to explore circulatory health when diagnosing and treating it.

  • Auditory Characteristics

Unlike other forms of tinnitus with high-pitched ringing or buzzing, people with pulsatile tinnitus experience a heartbeat, whooshing, or rhythmic throbbing.

  • Objective vs. Subjective

Pulsatile tinnitus is a ringing in the ears that nobody hears. It differs from another type of tinnitus called subjective tinnitus, where only the person experiencing it can listen to the sounds.

Effects on Well-being

  • Impact on Mental Health

Hearing a pulsing or thumping sound in your ears can be distressing, and it can have a significant impact on your mental health. People who experience this kind of tinnitus often feel anxious, stressed, and sometimes even depressed. These negative feelings take a toll on your overall well-being.

  • Sleep Disturbances

A poor sleep cycle can contribute to tiredness, irritability, and a diminished quality of life. The rhythmic nature of pulsatile tinnitus can be particularly disruptive during nighttime, making it difficult for individuals to fall or stay asleep.

  • Cognitive Impairment

Focusing on everyday tasks becomes a challenge with pulsatile tinnitus. The effort it takes to deal with the persistent sounds can affect work performance, academic achievements, and relationships. In severe cases, individuals also find memorising essential dates and information challenging. 

Seeking Relief

  • Medical evaluation and diagnosis

If you’re experiencing pulsatile tinnitus, the first step towards finding relief is to go for a medical evaluation. It’s essential to consult an ENT specialist or an audiologist who can help you identify the underlying cause of your condition. Consulting a pulsatile tinnitus specialist in the UK aims to pinpoint the root cause of pulsatile tinnitus, ranging from vascular issues to middle ear abnormalities or even tumours. The professional will conduct a thorough examination, including a detailed medical history, imaging studies, and possibly blood tests.

  • Available treatment options

When the cause of pulsatile tinnitus is known, various treatment options can be pursued to find relief. The method used is often dictated by the factors involved in the problem. Lifestyle adjustments and medication can help ease milder symptoms. In other cases, surgical measures may be proposed to improve blood flow and lead to an expedited recovery. Where tumours cause pulsatile tinnitus, the therapy might be surgical removal or a target guide. The aim is to remove or reduce the influence of tumours on auditory function.

Coping strategies and lifestyle modifications

  • Sound Therapy

Nature sounds, such as ocean waves, rainfall, or birdsong, can be soothing and divert attention from tinnitus. Many individuals find nature-inspired soundtracks helpful for relaxation.

  • Meditation and Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation techniques can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Focusing on the present moment helps shift attention away from tinnitus, fostering a sense of calm.

  • Hearing Protection

Protection of your ears from loud noises is crucial, especially if noise exposure is a known cause of tinnitus. Wear earplugs during concerts, loud events, or when using noisy equipment.

  • Sleep Hygiene

A regular sleep routine builds a consistent sleep pattern, improving sleep quality and reducing fatigue and stress associated with tinnitus.

Support and Resources

  • Connecting with support groups

Connecting with support groups provides an invaluable opportunity to share experiences, insights, and coping strategies with individuals facing similar challenges. In these groups, individuals exchange practical tips on managing symptoms, discuss the latest treatments, and offer emotional support.

  • Importance of seeking professional help

While the support of peers is invaluable, seeking professional help is equally crucial. Audiologists, ear, nose, and throat specialists (ENTs), and mental health professionals play essential roles in the holistic management of pulsatile tinnitus. 

Connect with ENT LDN Today

For professional tinnitus surgical procedures and painless treatments, ENT LDN is your go-to source option to treat your ear concerns. Our specialists are here to help patients with a diverse range of ear, nose, and throat conditions with effective treatments. Experience personalised care designed just for you by our pulsatile tinnitus specialist in the UK. Whether it’s hearing problems, tinnitus, or other concerns related to your ears, we aim to prioritise patient safety by providing top-notch and affordable services. Schedule your appointment at ENT LDN and experience long-lasting relief.


Frequently Asked Questions

Pulsatile tinnitus is relatively uncommon compared to other forms of tinnitus. It accounts for a smaller percentage of reported cases, with varying prevalence among individuals.

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