What is Pulsating Tinnitus?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 29 December 2019
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The term pulsating tinnitus describes a condition where an individual can hear his own pulse as his heart beats. Sometimes this is very loud to the point where it interferes with normal hearing, and in other cases, it may be more subtle. The condition is actually a symptom of several different disorders. Some of them are minor, while others are very serious, so a medical examination is generally recommended for safety’s sake.

Some cases of pulsating tinnitus are constant to the point where they disrupt the person’s life. Others may be more intermittent. When a person goes to the doctor, the question of whether or not the condition is constant can be an important clue in diagnosing possible causes.

One of the primary causes of pulsating tinnitus is anything that leads to inflammation inside a person’s ears. A good example would be an ear infection of some kind. As part of the body’s healing process, blood is sent to inflamed areas, and this increased blood flow can cause a loud pulsating sound. Dealing with this may involve antibiotics in some cases, and in other situations, it may heal on its own. Treatment will depend on the actual cause of the inflammation.


One of the main causes of pulsating tinnitus is an increased flow of blood through the carotid artery. This can be a sign of everything from pregnancy to some kind of thyroid problem. As a general rule, it is recommended that people take this seriously, because it signals that the person’s heart rate has increased for some reason, and that could be dangerous.

Some people are born with extra arteries near their eardrums, and this can get worse as they age. The condition can also spontaneously develop later in life or as a result of some sort of trauma. Eventually, this can cause pulsating tinnitus, and the sound of blood flowing may be constant. The only way to deal with this disorder is generally through surgery.

Occasionally, a person’s inner ear may become filled with fluid, and this can cause pulsating tinnitus. This often happens because of some kind of infection in the upper respiratory system. In this case, the problem may clear up eventually without medication, or it may require antibiotics and other treatments.

Sometimes pulsating tinnitus is caused by some kind of tumor in the ear cavity. Most of these will be benign, but some have the potential to be cancerous. It will often be necessary to remove the tumor as a treatment in these cases, and doctors may test the tumor to see if it is cancerous. Any follow-ups or prognosis will generally depend on the results of these tests.



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