For most tinnitus sufferers the sounds of tinnitus, that familiar hissing, buzzing or ringing in the ear tends to be a steady unchanging noise that comes and goes or is perhaps omnipresent. Some people, however, suffer pulsatile tinnitus symptoms which instead delivers a regular thumping sound in the ear which keeps rhythm with the beat of their heart.
This form of tinnitus can manifest itself as a result of the increased blood flow due to exercise, heart problems and angina or as a side effect of taking certain drugs. It can also occur in people suffering from severe anaemia or who have an overactive thyroid gland when the condition is known as hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis.
In these cases, it is probable that what is being heard is the sound of blood flowing through veins and arteries close to the ear, albeit annoyingly amplified.
It can be that these pulsatile tinnitus symptoms are brought forward because for one reason or another a sufferer has developed a heightened awareness to the sounds of their own body. It could be that it is a physical cause such as a damaged eardrum or glue ear making them more conscious of sounds from within themselves. These sounds being emphasised because the ear no longer has the benefit of the masking effect of external noises.
Pulsatile is often an objective form of tinnitus. That is to say that these sounds of tinnitus can be heard by a third party with the aid of perhaps a stethoscope applied to the ear, neck or skull.
Pulsatile tinnitus symptoms can also develop in relation to various vascular abnormalities close to the ear such as furring up or hardening of the arteries. These conditions result in an interruption or restriction of blood flow making it become turbulent rather than smooth and thereby making it noisier than it otherwise would be. Sometimes noise can also be generated from mechanical defects within the ear itself such as otosclerosis, a hardening of the stirrup bone in the middle ear.
Because there are sometimes these physical causes of pulsatile tinnitus it is always advisable to seek guidance from your doctor to treat its cause if that is possible. There are however many causes of pulsatile tinnitus symptoms which cannot be identified and thereby get categorised as being idiopathic or of unknown cause and for which there is no known medical cure.
Medical consultation will involve blood tests to rule out anaemia or thyroid problems which can, of course, be treated separately. Physical problems within the ear are often repairable as are some arterial blockages. But for many people, there is no straight forward cure for pulsatile tinnitus and they will have to go forward with the accepted routes to relieve those symptoms such as tinnitus retraining therapy, sound and relaxation therapy and of course counselling.