What Is Pulsatile Tinnitus and How Can It Be Treated?

Pulsatile Tinnitus is generally caused by a blood flow change within the large arteries of the neck, skull or inside the ear.  It is most usually manifested as a low pitched rhythmical noise in tempo with your pulse; in rarer instances a high pitched clicking sound can be heard.

DEFINITION: Pulsatile Tinnitus is most normally centered in the ear and is caused by variations in the blood flow, but can also be suggestive of benign or malignant tumors.  Should you experience symptoms, a doctor or health care professional should be consulted.

STATISTIC: Tinnitus is experienced by approximately 20% of the population in the USA.

It is rare that two people will describe the same symptoms and therefore receive the same tinnitus treatment, based on this specific tests may be ordered to study blood flow and pressures inside a patient’s head.  These tests will normally be performed with medical imaging via Ultrasound CT, MRI (Magnetic resonance scanning) or via Angiography.

Possible causes of pulsatile tinnitus.

Abnormal blood flow between the large artery and venous pools within the cranium.

Abnormal groups of arteries and/or veins located adjacent to the auditory nerves.

Infection of the middle ear which by its nature is accompanied by increased blood flow, the sound of this flow can be heard by some patients.

Fluid in the middle ear.  Healthy middle ears will be air filled; fluid in this space can be an indication of inflammation or infection.

The presence of tumors (termed paragandliomas).

Narrowing or blockage of arteries from atheroma (a fatty deposit inside the artery that can obstruct normal blood flow).


Treatment will vary according to the cause and specifics should be determined by a doctor or health care professional.

Medication can be used in the treatment of high blood pressure, while surgery may be indicated for blocked (or partially blocked) arteries.

High cholesterol levels have been associated with pulsatile tinnitus and the lowering of same has proven beneficial.

What Can You Do?

While a doctor’s visit is recommended, knowing your overall health can prove beneficial.

Are you overweight?  A change in diet and lowering of cholesterol has proven effective with many pulsatile tinnitus sufferers.

Do you have high blood pressure?  If yes, schedule a doctor’s visit as soon a practical, prescription high blood pressure medication may be necessary.

MEDICAL FACT:  A ringing the ear may be a symptom of high blood pressure, but rarely is it the only symptom.  Pulsatile tinnitus patients do not generally hear noises in their ears until after beginning a high blood pressure regimen.

While we cannot offer a diagnosis, experience has shown that treatment for pulsatile tinnitus may require a multi-pronged approach.  Change in diet, life-style and exercise regimen may help the underlying cause.

Aging or high noise environments are also known causes of the disease.  And while aging is a natural part of life, an overall healthy life-style can help alleviate underlying problems.  If your job or life-style exposes you to high sound decibels, ear protection is available and recommended.

Pulsatile tinnitus is not necessarily a debilitating disease, however if you are experiencing symptoms a doctor’s visit can help ensure there are no serious underlying problems.