Pulsatile Tinnitus

A rare case of tinnitus caused by a blood vessel disorder is known as pulsatile tinnitus.

Causes of pulsatile tinnitus

Some causes of pulsatile tinnitus are head and neck tumors, atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, malformation of capillaries and turbulent blood flow.

Tumors that exist in the neck tend to press on the blood vessels in our head or neck to eventually cause tinnitus.

The buildup of cholesterol and other deposits as well as old age can make major blood vessels close to the ear to flex with every heartbeat, making blood flow more forceful and eventually make your ear capture the beats. The sensing of the beats can cause tinnitus in both ears.

An increased blood pressure due to alcohol, caffeine and stress can increase the existence of tinnitus. An irregular blood flow due to the narrowing of the neck artery particularly the carotid artery or the jugular vein in the neck can lead to tinnitus as well.

Abnormal connections such as arteriovenous malformation between veins and arteries can lead to ringing or buzzing ears which can be experienced in one ear.


Treatment of pulsatile tinnitus will be decided by your physician after determining the cause of your pulsatile tinnitus.

If your pulsatile tinnitus worsens when you are into too much stress then lowering your stress levels through exercise, getting enough sleep and avoiding stressful activities may be suggested by your doctor.

Loud noises and nicotine might also worsen pulsatile tinnitus such that it is important to avoid noisy events such as in areas with fireworks display, concert venue, firing range, etc.

Secondhand smoke should also be avoided aside from smoking. Tinnitus symptoms can also be eased by taking tricyclic antidepressant but this drug can have side effects and should be stopped immediately after developing severe symptoms.

Other tests needed to diagnose pulsatile tinnitus

Further investigation for patients having constant pulsatile tinnitus is required when a physical examination does not indicate a specific vascular or muscoloskeletal source.

CT Scan
CT Scan

Additional tests are necessary to rule out a central nervous system lesion or a skull base tumor.

Angiography can be required to diagnose a lesion.

A CT scan can be conducted to determine if a skull base tumor exists.

A positron emission tomography can be used to know if an abnormal blood flow exists in the auditory cortex.