by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady explained,
I have tinnitus most of the time—day and night. It nearly drives me mad as I have an irregular heart beat, once going into fibrillation. I hear every heartbeat which scares me. I guess I am hearing it as the carotid artery is close to my ears. This all started right after my husband passed away after a long illness two and half years ago. Is there anything that I can do? I am 71 this year and as far as I know my hearing is good. I would be so happy if I could just even soften the sound a little. It’s a ringing sound.
Your tinnitus may have been caused by the stress of your husband’s long illness and death, possibly resulting in higher blood pressure, for example. This may have caused turbulent blood flow in the arteries close to your inner ears which you now hear as tinnitus.
If your tinnitus pulsates in unison with your heartbeat, you have pulsatile tinnitus. There are at least 25 different known causes of pulsatile tinnitus.
Pulsatile tinnitus often is a drumming, beating, pounding, throbbing whooshing, thumping, booming or fluttering sound. However, less commonly it may be a zinging, squeaking or ringing sound such as you have.
One of the interesting things about pulsatile tinnitus is that it may have single beats, or biphasic beats (like the clip-clop of a horse).
The good news is that pulsatile tinnitus typically is responsive to medical treatment. A good cardiac or vascular surgeon should be able to treat your pulsatile tinnitus. It may take a bit of detective work on his part, but it often can be treated either medically or surgically so that it disappears, or at least, is greatly reduced in volume.
You can learn more about the various forms of pulsatile tinnitus and what you should do about it in my book, When Your Ears Ring—Cope with Your Tinnitus—Here’s How.