Pulsatile tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is when a rhythmic sound is heard in the ears

Helen Cosgrove
Circulation Advisor
Ask Helen

An introduction to pulsatile tinnitus

Tinnitus is the condition when sounds are heard in one or both ears without a corresponding source for the noises heard. It is often described as a ringing sound but may also be a whine or buzz or described in other ways.

Tinnitus is most often heard as a constant sound. However, some people experience a rhythmic noise in the ears and this is known as pulsatile tinnitus. In many cases the pulses of tinnitus coincide, or seem in time with, the beating of the heart.

The cause of pulsatile tinnitus is usually easier to find and as a result, this type of tinnitus can be more easily treated.

It is important to note than some people can suffer from both normal and pulsatile tinnitus, and these may be experienced at the same time.

What causes pulsatile tinnitus?

The cause of tinnitus can be difficult to determine, but there are some conditions or factors which are known to be associated with pulsatile tinnitus. These include:

  • Changes in rate of blood flow – an increase in the amount of blood flowing through your circulatory system can increase your chances of pulsatile tinnitus. This may occur during or directly after exercise, as a symptom of anaemia or an over-active thyroid. Hardening of the arteries may also disturb blood flow. Instead of blood moving smoothly around the body, flow becomes turbulent and this creates noise
  • Deafness – suffering from hearing loss, particularly if it is the result of ear wax, can worsen symptoms of tinnitus. This is because external sounds no longer mask the ‘normal’ internal sounds. For example, if you stick your fingers in your ears (gently) you suddenly become very aware of any internal sounds in your ear and it is hard to block these sounds out
  • It the pulses of rhythmic tinnitus do not coincide with your heartbeat, the cause could be regular muscle contractions in the middle ear. There are a number of causes for this, including infection or inflammation in the Eustachian tube of the ear
  • Lastly, there are a number of rare health conditions which can give rise to pulsatile tinnitus. An example is something called idiopathic intracranial hypertension, a condition which gives rise to increased pressure in the fluid surrounding the brain.


If the cause of pulsatile tinnitus can be identified, the underlying condition should be addressed and this should bring about the most effective and long-lasting relief. For instance, anaemia or thyroid problems are usually very treatable illnesses.

If no specific cause for the problem is found, pulsatile tinnitus should be treated in the same way as normal tinnitus and with the use of self-help techniques. For some people, the use of Ginkgo biloba to help improve the way blood flows in the arteries can be of help.

Ginkgo biloba drops


£ 10.50

find your local stockist

Fresh Ginkgo leaves extract. Also available in 100ml size.
More info

What's being asked

My tinnitus is driving me mad. Is there anything I can do?

The herb Ginkgo biloba is traditionally used for tinnitus so it may be worth trying this for ...
Read more >

What is tinnitus? How do you end up with it?

Tinnitus is a continual noise in the ear - some people liken it to a hum or a high pitched noise. ...
Read more >

I've worked in the car trade most of my life as a car body repairer - a very noisy envoirment. My hearing is very poor. Could I have tinnitus?

Unfortunately, prolonged exposure to loud noise can contribute to tinnitus. You should check this ...
Read more >

How well is your memory working?

Quick and simple tests to assess how well your working memory, short-term memory and long-term memory are working.

Take the test

Here’s what I recommend

As the A. Vogel Circulation advisor, I recommend Gingko biloba drops to help maintain a healthy circulation.

Learn more

Did you know?

Earwax can indicate how often you are being exposed to loud noises. The substance is your body’s natural way of protecting your ears, so the more you are exposed to loud noises, the more earwax you may start to produce.

Ears ringing after a concert? It might be tinnitus

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

6 impressive health benefits of Prune Juice