Have you ever heard a pulsing sound in your ears? Although rare, a pulsing sound in your ear, also known as pulsatile tinnitus, happens. Pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom worth mentioning. Why should you mention it? This symptom can have many different causes, but the three most common are hypertension (a blood pressure problem), carotid artery disease (a heart problem), and certain tumors called glomus tumors (an ear problem). Let’s talk about this in a bit more detail.
If you have pulsatile tinnitus, it’s important to mention it to your audiologist, to your internist/primary care physician, or to your Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physician. Your physicians as well as your audiologists can complete some testing to determine the source of the pulsatile tinnitus. As audiologists, we will examine your ear canal, eardrum, certain reflexes, and diagnose the type and degree of hearing loss. Our job is to keep an eye out for certain kinds of hearing losses and to send you for further evaluation if certain symptoms arise. If a mass is noticed behind the eardrum or if pulsatile tinnitus is reported, your audiologist will refer you to an ENT. An ENT will do an exam of the eardrum and order imaging studies, such as an MRI or a CT scan, that are typically non-invasive and suitable for further diagnoses. Although typically benign and slow growing, it is important to know the symptoms of these tumors so they can be diagnosed early and monitored appropriately.