Have you ever lain in bed, the room perfectly silent, and suddenly become aware of a rhythmic thudding in your ears? That sound, resembling the beat of a drum or a galloping horse, is often described as "hearing your heartbeat" in your ears. But why does it happen?
What You're Hearing: Pulsatile Tinnitus The technical term for this sensation is "pulsatile tinnitus." Unlike traditional tinnitus, which is a constant ringing or buzzing noise in the ear, pulsatile tinnitus sounds are in sync with your heartbeat.
Anatomy 101: Blood Flow & Your Ears Our body is a network of vessels transporting blood, with the heart as the central pump. Near the inner ear, several arteries and veins can sometimes produce noise. When the blood flows more rapidly or becomes turbulent, it can create a sound that's picked up by the ear.
Why The Change in Blood Flow? Several factors can cause an alteration in blood flow:
High blood pressure: Elevated blood pressure can cause the blood to flow more forcefully, leading to increased turbulence.
Earwax blockage: A buildup of earwax can amplify the sounds of blood flow.
Ear vessel abnormalities: In some cases, structural abnormalities can change the way blood flows near the ears.
Age: As we age, our arteries can become more rigid, leading to turbulent blood flow.
Lifestyle and Health Factors Factors such as caffeine, stress, alcohol, and even fever can temporarily alter blood flow and lead to episodes of pulsatile tinnitus.
Is It Serious? In most cases, pulsatile tinnitus is benign. However, if it persists, it's always a good idea to seek medical advice, especially if it's accompanied by other symptoms.
Seeking Relief There are steps you can take to minimize the impact:
Limit stimulants: Reducing caffeine and alcohol might help.
Manage stress: Stress-relieving activities like meditation and deep breathing exercises can be beneficial.
Visit an ENT doctor: Regular ear check-ups can help address issues like earwax buildup.
Conclusion Hearing your heartbeat in your ear is a phenomenon that many people experience. Understanding the underlying causes and ways to manage it can provide peace of mind. Always remember, if you're concerned about any hearing anomalies, it's best to consult a medical professional.