Unlock new offers at our Endless Summer Event!

What is pulsatile tinnitus?

Last update on Mar, 17, 2023
Man rubbing his temples

More than 50 million people experience tinnitus, but it sounds different to everyone. Exploring the causes, signs and treatment options of pulsatile tinnitus can help you better understand how tinnitus impacts hearing health. 

Do you experience tinnitus, the perception of sound when there’s none present? It can manifest as a number of different sounds, most commonly buzzing or ringing. But if you’re living with pulsatile tinnitus, it sounds like a whooshing or thumping in your ear.  Not only can this be annoying, but it can also be a symptom of a larger hearing health concern. Let’s explore some of the big questions around this type of tinnitus to clarify why it’s different, what to look for and how to cope with it. 

Pulsatile tinnitus, also known pulse synchronous tinnitus, is a rhythmic thumping, whooshing or pulsing in the ear. It’s a rare form of tinnitus that tends to be synced to your heartbeat, and can seem as if you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears. Pulsatile tinnitus can occur in one or both ears, and it can change in pace or tone in relation to changes in your heart rate. 

The most common symptom of this type of tinnitus is hearing a steady thumping sound in your ears that occurs without external noise. You might be more likely to hear your heartbeat in your ear when lying down at night, when there are fewer external noises to mask the ear thumping. 

As with other types of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of a related illness or a disease affecting the body, but is not a condition itself. In the case of pulsatile tinnitus, it occurs when medical conditions or abnormalities disrupt blood flow near the ears. These illnesses are usually related to veins and arteries, such as heart disease, high blood pressure or plaque build-up in the arteries. Pulsatile tinnitus can also be a symptom of conductive hearing loss as a result of an infection, inflammation, obstruction or physical abnormality of the middle ear.

Because pulsatile tinnitus is caused by underlying health conditions, getting rid of the thumping sound in your ear requires treatment of the ailment in question. Here are a few pulsatile tinnitus treatment options:

Medication can be used to address heart disease, high blood pressure and anemia. 

Surgery can be used to correct any physical abnormalities in the ears. 

Self-management and lifestyle changes like sound therapy and noise-suppression devices, or exercise  and smoking cessation, can be built into your daily routine to alleviate symptoms.

Discuss your symptoms with your doctor to better understand how pulsatile tinnitus is affecting your health and what treatment options might be most beneficial to you. 


While health conditions can’t always be prevented, there are a few steps you can take to support and maintain your physical and hearing health. Given the interrelation with the heart health and blood flow, maintaining healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels may prevent pulsatile tinnitus. A healthy diet and regular exercise are important habits that can improve and support your health now and in the future.

Have more questions about pulsatile tinnitus? Book an appointment with a hearing care professional at your local Miracle-Ear today. They can help you get to the root cause of the issue and ensure that you’re getting the right treatment.

More from the blog

Discover a world of sounds.
View all

Get support and advice

Book an appointment online

Book now

Take a free online hearing test

Start test

Find a hearing aid center near you

Search now