If you’ve ever gone for a run or hike on Winsor Trail, you are likely familiar with the sensation of hearing your heartbeat in your ears. Pulsatile tinnitus causes a similar heartbeat sound in the ears. However, with pulsatile tinnitus, the sound may arise anytime rather than solely after exercise or exertion.
Let’s look at some causes and symptom management options for pulsatile tinnitus to help you approach the condition confidently.
Overview and Causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus
Pulsatile tinnitus is characterized by the perception of rhythmic sounds in the ears, often synchronized with the individual’s heartbeat. Presenting in only 10% of tinnitus cases, pulsatile tinnitus is usually caused by vascular or nonvascular conditions.
Vascular conditions affect the way that blood vessels carry oxygen throughout the body. Examples of Vascular conditions include but are not limited to peripheral artery disease, varicose veins and atherosclerosis. Nonvascular causes include metabolic diseases that cause increased cardiac output, such as pregnancy, anemia and thyrotoxicosis.
Symptom Management Options
Minimizing pulsatile tinnitus symptoms usually focuses on managing the underlying condition. For instance, if your pulsatile tinnitus is caused by hypertension, your provider may recommend lifestyle changes or medication.
In addition to managing the underlying condition, your provider may recommend symptom management options usually designated for minimizing the effect broad tinnitus has on your life. Options may include but are not limited to:
- Decreasing caffeine intake. Caffeine is a frequently discussed cause of tinnitus flare-ups. Your provider may recommend switching your afternoon cup of coffee for an herbal tea to determine if minimizing caffeine can prevent flare-ups.
- Sound masking. Sound masking works by providing a relaxing white, pink or other noise to distract the brain from the internal pulsing of tinnitus. Sound masking machines may include hearing aids, white noise machines, tinnitus apps or tinnitus-specific sound machines.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on reordering the brain’s reaction to tinnitus noise. While it cannot prevent tinnitus, it can help reduce the stress and anxiety associated with it.
Living with pulsatile tinnitus can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. By employing a multi-faceted approach to manage the underlying condition and minimize the impact of symptoms, you can take control of pulsatile tinnitus.
To learn more about managing your symptoms, contact Southwestern Hearing & Balance today to make an appointment with one of our trusted specialists.