Tips & Tricks for Alleviating Swishing Sounds in the Ear

Doctors can sometimes hear it when they listen with a stethoscope. Pulsatile tinnitus is also called vascular, rhythmic, or pulse-synchronous tinnitus. Below, the experts at Connect Hearing have included helpful information about this type of tinnitus and how to

alleviate the discomfort associated with its symptoms. With locations throughout Texas, Florida, California, Georgia, Colorado, and beyond, we’re here to help enhance your life with improved hearing. Contact our local hearing centers today to learn more.

Common Causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus usually occurs when certain conditions cause the blood flow near or around your ears to change. Blood flow that changes can be a sign of a serious medical condition, but having pulsatile tinnitus doesn’t mean you automatically have a condition. Occasionally, pulsatile tinnitus is caused by an enhanced ability to hear blood flow. Some of the most common conditions that can cause pulsatile tinnitus include the following:
  • Atherosclerosis: The hardening of arteries can cause uneven blood flow, which makes more noise than smooth-flowing blood close to your ear.
  • Sinus Wall Abnormalities (SWAA): People who suffer from conditions that cause increased blood flow in the channel of their sinus wall can suffer from pulsatile tinnitus that causes a whooshing sound.
  • Arteriovenous Malformations: This condition causes blood vessels to tangle, affecting the connections between your veins and arteries. People who have arteriovenous malformation near their ears may develop pulsatile tinnitus.
  • High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): If the pressure of blood against your blood vessel walls is too high, you can suffer from pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Anemia: Anemia can increase the flow of your blood, which can affect your blood vessels and cause pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Middle Ear Tumors: Glomus tumors can form on the part of the ear that receives sound. These tumors have many blood vessels, sometimes causing people to develop pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension: This occurs when cerebrospinal fluid builds up around the brain, increasing pressure on blood vessels and possibly affecting blood flow.
  • Head Trauma: More than 50 percent of people who have experienced traumatic head injuries develop tinnitus, including pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Hyperthyroidism: This condition can cause your heart to speed up, which can increase your blood flow and cause pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Paget’s Disease: Around 20 percent of people with Paget's disease eventually develop hearing issues, including pulsatile tinnitus.

Symptoms of Pulsatile Tinnitus

The symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus can be frustrating to deal with. At best, it’s unsettling to hear a constant whooshing or heartbeat in your ear. The most common symptom of pulsatile tinnitus is hearing a rhythmic swooshing or whooshing noise inside your head that often keeps pace with your pulse. Some other symptoms include:
  • Symptoms increase or decrease when you lie down or turn your head.
  • Symptoms change when you put pressure on the jugular vein.
  • The swishing or heartbeat sound happens when there’s no external sound.

Treatment Options for Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is often associated with something else that needs to be treated medically. Your doctor’s treatment plan will depend on what’s causing your tinnitus and the severity of your condition. Some patients require medication or surgery to repair blood vessels. If your doctor can’t find a cause for your condition or you’re still dealing with the symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus, you can try:
White Noise
White noise makes other sounds less noticeable, especially when lying in bed at night. Many white noise machines are available on the market, but using a fan or air conditioner can also provide relief.
Hearing Aids
The latest in hearing aid technology offer ‘tinnitus masking’ features that help create a constant, low-level background noise that, similar to white noise, distract the user from the effects of tinnitus.
Tinnitus Retraining
This method involves wearing a device that plays music at a frequency that helps you tune out the whooshing noises caused by pulsatile tinnitus.
Counseling Options
Some patients find that mental wellness therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy help them cope with the noise in their heads and pay less attention to it.
Relaxation Techniques
Learning techniques to help you relax and ease the stress associated with pulsatile tinnitus can be helpful

When Should I Be Concerned?

You should contact your healthcare provider if you experience any sudden or unexplained body changes. If you suddenly hear swishing or whooshing sounds in your head or one ear or have difficulty seeing, walking, or balancing, it's important to seek medical help immediately.

How Can I Prevent Pulsatile Tinnitus?

Pulsatile tinnitus can be prevented by treating the condition that’s causing a change to your normal blood flow. Patients aren’t always able to fully treat the underlying conditions causing their pulsatile tinnitus.

Improving Your Quality of Life With Professional Help

Pulsatile tinnitus is a rare issue. Like tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus can affect your quality of life, keeping you awake when you want to rest or distracting you when you need to concentrate. The difference is tinnitus makes constant random noise. Pulsatile tinnitus is like a real-time soundtrack of blood flowing to and from your heart. Annoying as it may be, that soundtrack may save your life. Pulsatile tinnitus may be the first sign of a serious medical condition affecting your blood flow. Talk to your healthcare provider if you notice noise in your ears that keeps time with your pulse. They'll find out if there's an underlying and potentially serious problem and take steps to treat it.

Get in Touch With Our Premier Hearing Clinics Today

Connect Hearing is committed to providing industry-leading hearing health care in our nationwide network of hearing centers in Texas, Florida, California, and beyond. Our hearing care professionals and audiologists are passionate about helping people to hear better, applying a consistent process to determine the best recommendations for your hearing health. We provide free hearing evaluations and a consultation with a professional with recommendations based on your hearing needs and lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more, or book an appointment online to take the first step towards better hearing.