Pulsatile tinnitus (PT) is a rare form of tinnitus, which accounts for 10% of tinnitus cases. PT causes a rhythmic sound in one or both ears, in sync with the heartbeat. The sound is commonly described as a whooshing noise or thumping beat that remains constant or fluctuates with the heartbeat.
Those who experience PT may find these sensations to be distracting and often report difficulty concentrating on everyday tasks. In some cases, symptoms can lead to insomnia, anxiety and depression if left untreated.
Our team of highly skilled ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists and neuro-endovascular surgeons in the Pulsatile Tinnitus Clinic at Edward Hospital will work closely with you to identify what is causing your PT and determine ways to relieve it.
What causes pulsatile tinnitus?
A variety of underlying health conditions can cause PT. These range from benign to more serious and are usually vascular in nature. In most cases, the cause of PT is identifiable and treatable. When the underlying cause is treated, the sound is often also eliminated.
Some conditions known to cause PT include:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Arteriovenous malformations (tangle of blood vessels)
- Atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the artery lining)
- Hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland)
- Brain aneurysm
- Venous sinus stenosis (narrowing of large veins in the brain)
- Carotid stenosis
- Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
- Dural arteriovenous fistula (vascular abnormalities)
- Paget’s disease (a chronic disease involving bone growth)
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Conductive hearing loss
- Head trauma
How is pulsatile tinnitus diagnosed?
When you come to the Pulsatile Tinnitus Clinic, our team will first request imaging tests to look at your arteries and veins to help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms. Imaging tests may include:
- MR angiography
- Doppler ultrasound
- CT angiography
Once we identify the underlying cause of your PT, our team will work with you to create a customized treatment plan that meets your needs.
Since the key to treating PT is to address the underlying condition that is causing it, our multidisciplinary team works together, and with you, to diagnose the cause of your symptoms, then develop a comprehensive treatment plan.
In addition to treating the underlying condition, other treatment options for PT include:
- Wearable sound generators
- Tinnitus retraining therapy
Edward-Elmhurst Health pulsatile tinnitus clinics
We have two convenient locations for appointments:
For more information or to make an appointment, please call us at 630-527-7730.
Daniel M Heiferman, M.D.
Ingrid Kanady, APRN