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heartbeat heard in ear
scaredandunsure1961 posted:
hi! Im a 48 yr old female-only real medical issues is overweight and hypertension, but on Atenolol that controls it well. Was in to my ENT Dr in Dec 08 for a FULL ear exam, including hearing test and physical ear exam--at that time I had a plugged right ear, and ringing in both ears. I have mild hearing loss and tinnitus diagnosed. I told him at that time that occasionally I hear my heartbeat in that right ear. He listened to my neck, the arteries there I guess, and said he heard nothing. I left ,and have not had any troubles till a couple days ago. I was sitting at the computer, and suddenly, I could hear my heartbeat-a swooshing sound in my left ear. It continues now, several days later. It is NOT continual. Just sporadic. The ear feels slight pressure-not plugged, and no real pain..maybe slight. I contacted the same ENT Dr, and explained this. He reviewed my last visit records, and said it should be ok-unless I notice a hearing loss in that ear. I have not. He didnt feel the need to see me. However it drives me nuts! Of course Ive researched it online, and read the ominous pulsatile tinnitus information...and that is making me question my ENT drs advice to just ignore it...and he is a good reputable Dr in this town. Am I just being paranoid over this? Could things have changed drastically since Dec? I read about things like tumor, plugged artery, and I dont know if I should indeed just let this go. I dont know why it came on suddenly like it did--and why it comes and goes. I do seem to have allergies of some kind, I dont know if that would affect it at all. Help!
Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
Yes, by definition, you do have pulsatile tinnitus (PT). However, not all of the causes of PT are "serious".....

Pulsatile tinnitus can be caused by many medical conditions:

Vascular abnormalities -- a problem with an adjacent artery or vein (the jugular vein has a pulsation is high on the list of causes). Glomus tumors (a non-cancerous growth in or near the blood vessels) are occasionally found. Carotid stenosis (closing or narrowing of this neck artery) can cause pulsatile symptoms.

There are other causes, including hypertension (such as the high blood pressure that you have), patulous eustachian tubes (open tubes leading from throat to ear), palatomyoclonus (spasms of muscles in the soft palate) and stapedial muscle spasm (the tiny muscle attached to the stapes bone in the middle ear).

In order for you to be properly evaluated, it would be best for you to see an ENT at a large, university-based medical center. Usually, the collaborative resources at these large institutions are better for these difficult to diagnose (and treat) disorders. You can start with the local ENT if you would like. Maybe, after examining you and reviewing your medical history, he may be more inclined to start a diagnostic work-up.

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