Pulsatile tinnitus is a condition that displays itself as a rhythmical noise. This is usually experienced as the same rate as the heart, differing from the general form of tinnitus, which tends to be a steady noise with no frequent or regular changes in its loudness. Pulsatile tinnitus occurs due to a change in blood flow in the vessels near the ear, or to a change in awareness of that blood flow. This can be checked by feeling the pulse at the same time as listening to the tinnitus.
Pulsatile Tinnitus Causes
With pulsatile tinnitus, the chances of finding a specific cause are greater than other forms of tinnitus. Even so, pulsatile tinnitus causes are not always easy to identify, and finding a definite pulsatile tinnitus cause is not common.
Pulsatile tinnitus causes include a change in blood flow in the vessels near the ear or to a change in awareness of that blood flow. The involved vessels include the large arteries and veins in the neck and base of the skull and smaller ones in the ear itself. The blood flow can be altered by a variety of factors:
- Generalised increased blood flow
- Localised increased flow
- Turbulent blood flow
- Altered awareness
When the blood flow is increased, this can result in a larger amount of pulsatile tinnitus ear wax causing a blockage. This might also happen if you have another ear condition that blocks outside noise, making you more aware of internal sounds.
Some pulsatile tinnitus causes do not fall into any of the above categories. There is a condition called benign or idiopathic intracranial hypertension, which is characterised by headaches and visual disturbance, combined with pulsatile tinnitus.
Pulsatile tinnitus can present itself as many possible sounds. These can include ringing, whistling, buzzing, or clicking. It is possible that you may experience pulsatile tinnitus in one ear only, and it may be experienced constantly, or as intermittent pulsatile tinnitus.
Pulsatile Tinnitus Treatment Referral
It is estimated that tinnitus affects about 25% of the general population. Anyone with pulsatile tinnitus should seek advice with an ENT consultant. At Harley Street Hearing, although we do not treat the condition ourselves, we can refer anyone with the condition to an ENT that specialises in pulsatile tinnitus treatment.
Sound Therapy For Pulsatile Tinnitus
Whether you suffer from pulsatile tinnitus in one ear only or otherwise, sometimes the blood vessel can’t be treated. In this case, you may benefit from sound therapy. This involves playing background noise, such as soft music or white noise, to distract you from the tinnitus or change your brain’s sensitivity to the pitch of the tinnitus. You may also benefit from cognitive behaviour therapy, a form of talk therapy designed to change the way you think about a problem, changing your emotional reaction to it and ultimately the way you behave toward it.
Pulsatile tinnitus retraining therapy is a form of therapy that intends to help people cope with the impact pulsatile tinnitus has on their everyday life. This technique uses directive counselling and sound therapy. For those people with pulsatile tinnitus, there are a variety of methods to manage the tinnitus which people find helpful. These include techniques such as sound therapy, relaxation therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, counselling, and mindfulness.