Pulsatile Tinnitus

Hearing The Sound Of Your Heartbeat in Your Ears

A thumping sound in your ears, also known as pulsatile tinnitus, can be caused by numerous issues, many of which can also affect your balance and hearing. To learn more about the causes and treatments available, continue reading below.

Pulsatile Tinnitus: Why Am I Hearing a Heartbeat Sound in My Ear?

Hearing a heartbeat sound in your ear may be concerning, especially if you do not know the reason behind it. The most common conditions associated with pulsatile tinnitus are:

Meniere’s Disease

Meniere’s disease is a condition affecting the inner ear that leads to decreased fluid levels, impacting one’s sense of balance. Several conditions can cause Meniere’s disease, including autoimmune disorders, allergic reactions, other illnesses, or hereditary conditions.

Associated Symptoms:

Ringing in the ears, severe dizziness (vertigo), ear and sinus pressure, nausea, and fainting episodes; if left untreated, Meniere’s disease can cause severe and permanent hearing loss and balance issues. Typically this condition will only affect one ear, and its symptoms can be unpredictable, appearing and disappearing without warning. Although Meniere’s disease cannot be cured, it can be managed through various means such as medication to alleviate motion sickness and nausea, utilization of hearing aids, and in certain situations, surgery.

Temporomandibular Joint, or TMJ Dysfunction Disorder

TMJ dysfunction disorder is an issue that affects the movement of the jaw. The Temporomandibular Joint, where the upper and lower jawbones connect, is a complex joint with complicated movements and is vulnerable to strain and injury.

Associated Symptoms:

Dizziness, limited jaw movement, and clicking sounds when moving the jaw, chronic headaches, pain in the jaw and teeth, tightness, and pain at the back of the neck.

Earwax Blockage

Our body creates ear wax to protect our ears from infections. But sometimes, it can build up and cover the eardrum. It is essential to understand that ear wax buildup is not caused by poor hygiene and cannot be avoided by washing alone.

Associated Symptoms:

Ear pain, ear pressure, dry cough, dizziness, and ringing in the ears. It’s critical to have your ears cleaned carefully by a professional. A large variety of ear drops and natural oils are available to buy at many pharmacies. Never use cotton swaps to clean your ears as they can cause worse impaction and could rupture the eardrum.

These three conditions make up more than three-quarters of pulsatile tinnitus cases. Other conditions associated with hearing a heartbeat sound have other symptoms that usually take precedence, making this symptom less likely to be observed.

Other Conditions that Can Cause You to Hear a Heartbeat Sound:

Pseudotumor Cerebri

Also known as ‘idiopathic intracranial hypertension,’ is a condition where pressure builds up inside the skull. Symptoms of this condition include headaches, pain behind the eyes, and vision changes. The cause of this pressure increase is often unknown.

Chronic Myofascial Pain

Also known as myofascial pain syndrome, it can occur when specific muscle points are under pressure, causing referred pain that is felt in other parts of the body. Physical therapy, pain relief medication, and trigger point injections are effective treatments to manage this condition. Additionally, acupuncture and antidepressants may also be beneficial in certain situations.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

This occurs when the body lacks sufficient iron to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body.
Some common symptoms of this condition are tiredness, difficulty breathing, low stamina, and experiencing chest pain with fast or irregular heartbeats. If left untreated, it can cause heart disease because the heart must work harder to supply oxygen to the tissues.

Inner Ear Infection (Labyrinthitis)

Labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection, affects the fragile bone structures deep in the ear. Common symptoms of this condition may include vertigo, nausea, hearing loss, ear pain, and tinnitus. Drainage from the ear canal may also be present. If you have viral labyrinthitis, it’s vital to rest, stay hydrated, and take over-the-counter pain relievers. However, if you have bacterial labyrinthitis, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.

Hypertensive Crisis

Blood pressure, with high readings, can damage blood vessels and cause a stroke. Also called malignant hypertension, it denotes a dangerous increase in blood pressure to high levels. Symptoms include severe headache, blurred vision, chest pain, nausea, shortness of breath, and blacking out. To manage high blood pressure, doctors typically prescribe oral medication. However, it’s crucial to also focus on preventative measures, such as taking blood pressure medication and making lifestyle changes to reduce stress and improve physical fitness.

Cholesteatoma (Non-Cancerous Growth)

Cholesteatoma is a skin growth found in the ear behind the eardrum. Although it can be congenital, it is commonly caused by an ear infection. Some symptoms of the condition may include feeling dizzy, experiencing hearing loss, feeling pressure in the ear that is affected, and noticing discharge coming from the same ear. Fortunately, several ways to treat it include ear cleaning, antibiotics, and eardrops. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the growth.

Carotid Artery Dissection

If the walls of the carotid arteries, which carry blood to the brain from the aorta, tear, it is called a carotid artery dissection. This is a severe medical emergency and should be treated at once.

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