One of the most common causes of pulsating tinnitus is turbulent or noisy blood flow going to arteries in and around the ear. This can be caused by a plaque or kinks in the arteries in both the head and neck – which under normal circumstances would not cause any problem.
In such cases where plaque has built up within the arteries or bloodflow has been increased because of hypertension – high blood pressure – then one symptom of these problems is that you start to hear the blood as it passes through the arteries in your head.
Obviously though, these aren’t the only causes of pulsating tinnitus. Here’s a quick list of the most common causes.
The Venous Hum
- Thyroid Problems
Collectively, these conditions can cause an increased blood flow through the jugular vein. This is the largest vein in the neck and carries blood from the brain back to the heart going past the middle ear. The noise created by turbulence in the bloodflow as it passes through the jugular vein is often heard in the middle ear as an “Hum”. Many times this will be in rhythm with the bloodflow — but not always. Doctors may refer to this noise as a Venous Hum.
Cartoid Artery Fistula
This condition results in an abnormal connection between the large artery and venous pool found within the cranial cavity. Many times this is due to severe head trauma perhaps as a result of an accident.
Chronic infection or inflammation of the middle ear
Chronic infection in the middle ear will often result in inflammation of the middle ear. The body often responds to inflammation by increasing the blood flow to the affected part or tissue. In this case, as the affected part is in the ear mean that some people are able to hear this increase blood flow as it something they’re not used to.
Fluid in the middle ear
Under normal circumstances the middle ear is filled with air. However, there are a number of circumstances such as infection, inflammation or eustachian tube problems that result in fluid building up behind the middle ear. As the fluid accumulates this can distort or put pressure on the tissues in the middle ear such that the bloodflow seems to be more apparent to the sufferer.
In many cases tumours such as these glomus tumours (paragangliomas) are benign. But again as they will cause a distortion of the tissues within the ear and may constrict arteries. Quite often a symptom of the type of tumours is that the sufferer can hear their blood flowing. In this case surgery is often the only remedy.
Malformation of Arteries
Arteriovenous malformations (AVM’s) in this case the sufferer develops an abnormal collection of arteries and veins within the cranial cavity and in close proximity to the auditory nerve. The tissue which develops as a result of this malformation pulses against the auditory nerve stimulating it and giving rise to alternating tinnitus.