Why Do I Hear My Pulse in My Ear?
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November 2, 2012, last updated May 2, 2014


By  Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and
other members of our Editorial Board.]







You’re sitting quietly when you hear something strange and
disturbing – it sounds like your pulse, and you can hear it
directly in your ear. Your pulse in your ear sounds like a
rhythmic thumping, bumping, or whooshing that you hear in
time with your heart beat. The noise may make it difficult to
concentrate, or to hear what people are saying. What does it
mean if you hear your pulse in your ear? Should you be
worried if you can take your pulse simply by listening?

Why Do You Hear Your Pulse in Your Ear?

Normally you would only be able to feel your pulse, or your
heart beat, when you hold your fingers to your wrist or your
neck. You can also hear your heart beat through a
stethoscope. But hearing your pulse in your ear is unusual.

The most likely cause of this phenomenon is a condition
called pulsatile tinnitus. Tinnitus comes from the Latin verb
"tinnire" which means " to ring".

Tinnitus can be "objective" which means there is an sound
or source of a sound either outside or within your body
which you are hearing.  Or, it can be "subjective", meaning it
may not emanate from a real sound.

Around 10 percent of us experience tinnitus frequently,
according to the British Tinnitus Association, and of this 10
percent some will experience it in the form of pulsatile
tinnitus – hearing the pulse sound in one ear, or sometimes
both.

What is Pulsatile Tinnitus?

Tinnitus happens when you hear a sound in your ear when
there is no external noise to make it. You may hear a ringing,
a whooshing, a whistling or a thumping sound in your ear.

Pulsatile tinnitus is a rhythmic noise that you feel in time with
your heart beat.

Pulsatile tinnitus happens when you experience a change in
blood flow through the blood vessels close to the ear. The
sound of your pulse is due to an uneven, or turbulent, flow
of blood in these vessels. Why do you hear a pulse in your
ear?

An Increase in Blood Flow Can Cause a Pulse in your Ear

Quick-flowing blood is more likely to generate sound than
slow blood flow. There are a few reasons for an increase in
blood flow, including a strenuous workout or pregnancy.
According to a 2012 study by NIHR Nottingham Hearing
Biomedical Research Unit, UK, tinnitus is the most common
ear complaint suffered by women during pregnancy. In most
cases the experience is simply distressing while in some
cases it could signal
high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia. If
you are pregnant and hearing your pulse in your ear, consult
your doctor.

You may also experience an increase in blood flow, and hear
your pulse in your ear, when you have severe
anemia or an
overactive thyroid.

Atherosclerosis May Cause a Pulse in your Ear

























You could also be hearing your pulse in your ear because the
insides of your blood vessels are irregular and not smooth as
they should be. This is often caused by atherosclerosis
(
hardening of the arteries). You hear your pulse because the
blood flow over these irregularities is turbulent and noisy,
rather like a river running over rapids. A 2011 study from
Okazaki City Medical Association, Aichi, Japan showed that
tinnitus is associated with increase in the thickness of
arteries, which is an early indicator of atherosclerosis.

High blood pressure can also cause a pulse sound in your ear
– another reason to get your blood pressure checked
regularly. (Read more about
10 natural remedies for high
blood pressure and  remedies for hardened or stiff arteries.)

Pulse Sound May be Caused by Hearing Loss

Strangely, hearing the sound of your pulse in your ear could
actually be caused by hearing loss. This is because you
become more aware of internal sounds when they are no
longer effectively covered by external noise. Reasons for
hearing loss include perforated ear drum, glue ear,
inflammation or
infection of the middle ear, or a build-up of
fluid in the ear. In a 2012 study from The Catholic University
of Korea, Seoul, South Korea 69 percent of patients with
profound hearing loss had tinnitus before they underwent
cochlear implantation, and the cochlear implant improved
tinnitus symptoms in all 35 patients who underwent the
procedure.

Benign Intracranial Hypertension and Pulse in the Ear

Hearing your pulse in your ear may also be caused by a rare
condition called "benign intracranial hypertension", a
condition that produces headaches and vision problems as
well as pulsatile tinnitus. The condition is more common in
overweight young or middle-aged women, according to the
British Tinnitus Association.

A 2003 study from the Hospital Universitario La Paz, Madrid,
Spain demonstrated that benign intracranial hypertension is
a condition characterized by abnormally high intracranial
pressure and, out of the cases studied, 70 percent of
sufferers were women and 59 percent were obese.

Treatment for Hearing a Pulse in Your Ear

Continue reading  page 1  page 2

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