Everything You Need to Know About Pulsatile Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a condition that affects one’s hearing. It is characterized by a noise that can only be heard by you. Tinnitus can manifest in many different ways, but it’s typically described as a high-pitched buzzing, humming, or ringing noise. However, there are many different ways that tinnitus can be perceived.

If you are experiencing tinnitus symptoms, the most important thing is to ensure that you get in to see a qualified audiologist. They can help to evaluate your condition and determine what kind of treatment options are available for you. Because tinnitus can be such a disruptive condition, it’s important to look at the different ways it can manifest and what you can do to treat it.

In this article, we will discuss the different ways that people experience tinnitus. In particular, we will look at one type of tinnitus known as pulsatile tinnitus. Continue reading to learn more about pulsatile tinnitus and what you can do if you are living with this condition.

What is Pulsatile Tinnitus?

Pulsatile tinnitus is a particular form of tinnitus that is quite rare. The most notable aspect of this kind of tinnitus is that the sound is coming from your body rather than simply being perceived by your brain, like most forms of tinnitus. It is also known as rhythmic, vascular, or pulse-synchronous tinnitus.

Pulsatile tinnitus occurs when you can hear a sound that is in rhythm with the blood flow throughout your body and your heartbeat. Essentially, you will hear a sound that is in sync with your pulse. You may only hear this type of tinnitus in one ear, but you may hear it in both. Like all kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is disruptive and distracting.

It can keep you from being able to focus or concentrate and may interfere with your interactions with others. You may find that you cannot hear what people are saying or that you cannot focus on your daily tasks due to the sound of your tinnitus.

What Causes Pulsatile Tinnitus?

Pulsatile tinnitus can be caused by many different factors. Some of the most common reasons behind pulsatile tinnitus include:

  • Vascular Abnormalities: When there are abnormal connections between your veins and arteries, pulsatile tinnitus can manifest as a result
  • High Blood Pressure: One of the most common reasons behind pulsatile tinnitus is high blood pressure or hypertension. In particular, if you are engaging in behavior that will cause a sudden increase in your blood pressure, such as eating certain unhealthy foods or undergoing stress, you will notice your tinnitus much more.
  • Hardening of the Arteries: Another cause of pulsatile tinnitus is when blood vessels that are near the middle or inner ear begin to harden. This condition is also known as atherosclerosis. When blood vessels harden, blood flow has to naturally increase in strength to make its way through the vessels. This can make the blood flow much easier to hear, which can result in pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension: The term hypertension relates to high pressure of some kind. In this case, it is related to high pressure surrounding the brain that is caused by a build-up of fluid. Along with tinnitus symptoms, this condition can also result in headaches, visual changes, and dizziness.
  • Head and Neck Tumors: Additionally, tumors on the head and neck can lead to pulsatile tinnitus. While this is a rare reason behind the condition, it is something that can occur. When a tumor presses on blood vessels, you may then be able to hear your blood flow, leading to pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Anemia or an Overactive Thyroid Gland: Additionally, if you have a thyroid that is acting up or if you are experiencing anemia (or a lack of red blood cells), you may find that the sound of your blood flow is increased and is much louder than usual.

How Can Pulsatile Tinnitus Be Treated?

There are several different ways that pulsatile tinnitus can be treated. While there is not necessarily a cure, reducing the causes of your tinnitus will likely result in the symptoms subsiding. Some of the ways that pulsatile tinnitus is most commonly treated include:

  • Lifestyle Changes: Because pulsatile tinnitus is often a result of high blood pressure or other health issues if your health improves, then it is likely that your tinnitus will be reduced. Making sure to keep a healthy, low-sodium diet can be extremely helpful in lowering your blood pressure. Additionally, making sure to get plenty of exercise can help to reduce your blood pressure and lead to a reduction in your tinnitus symptoms.

Furthermore, eliminating bad habits can be another positive lifestyle change that can result in reduced tinnitus. Activities such as smoking or drinking can cause your body to not work optimally, which may make your blood flow faster and harder, leading to tinnitus.

  • Sound Therapy: Another way that people treat different forms of tinnitus is through sound therapy. Sound therapy is the practice of retraining your brain to perceive your tinnitus in a new way. White noise or another pleasant sound is used to distract you away from the sound of your tinnitus, and over time, the goal is to retrain your brain so that it no longer perceives the tinnitus as strongly or to replace the sound of the tinnitus with something much gentler and more pleasant.
  • White Noise Machines: While this isn’t a permanent solution, white noise can be very helpful in drowning out the sound of your tinnitus. White noise machines produce a calming background noise that can help to make your tinnitus less noticeable. Especially when you’re sleeping, white noise can be extremely helpful. Remember that there are apps that produce white noise as well that can be used right on your phone.

Pulsatile tinnitus, like all forms of tinnitus, can be highly disruptive and distracting. It can interfere with all kinds of different aspects of your life, such as your ability to be social or to focus on tasks with clarity. However, unlike other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus can be heard as a direct result of the blood flow in your body.

While this can be very distressing, there are ways that pulsatile tinnitus can be treated. Retraining through the use of sound therapy and also focusing on a healthy lifestyle are two of the most effective ways to reduce your pulsatile tinnitus symptoms. If you or someone you love is dealing with pulsatile tinnitus, reach out to an audiologist today to review your options and get back to living your best life.

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