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Whooshing sound in ears. What might be causing this?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 1991
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Question
I have developed a regular, rhythmic whooshing sound in my ears when I sit or lie down. Can you tell me what might be causing this?
Posted Mon, 11 Nov 2013 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
 
 
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
Tinnitus.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thank you for your query.

1. This sound is known as Tinnitus.

2. Get an ear examination and a Pure Tone Audiogram (PTA) done. Ear wax and hearing loss are common causes of Tinnitus.

3. The exact cause of Tinnitus is unknown. However one of the the agreed pathology is damage to or loss of to hair cells in the inner ear. The role of the brain in the perception of Tinnitus also exists. For example, some people have been relieved of Tinnitus after a cerebral stroke, while some continue to hear it even after the Cochlear (Hearing) Nerve is cut.

4. There are also types of Tinnitus which occur with normal or Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL). Objective Tinnitus may be heard by others and Pulsatile or Vascular Tinnitus is related to increased or turbulent blood flow. You may get a Neck Vessel Color Doppler done.

5. If your Tinnitus increases on clenching the teeth, it may require dental bite correction. I have noticed patients who have increased Tinnitus when they are stressed, have fluctuations of blood pressure, low hemoglobin, low blood sugar levels and so on.

6. Cochlear Synaptic Tinnitus may be treated in up to 50% people with Caroverine infusion followed by capsules for two months. Other treatments such as transtympanic steroids, gingko biloba, multi-vitamins and anti-oxidants may also help in reducing Tinnitus.

8. What is your exposure to mobile phone radiation? Traffic noise and earphone volumes. past occupational noise exposure are potential causes.

9. Kindly let me know the results of your investigations. This will help in suggesting further treatment. I must emphasize that in a vast majority of patients of tinnitus, the cause is never found. However there are further treatment options depending on the type of tinnitus.

There is no cure for tinnitus however in certain cases, it can be controlled.

I hope that I have answered your query. If you have any further questions, I will be available to answer them.

Regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Whooshing sound in ears. What might be causing this? 4 hours later
I thought Tinnitus was a ringing in the ears, at least those I know who have it describe it as such and also say that it is constant. I experience a whooshing sound, a drawn out sound, not a ring, that pulses like a heartbeat and only hear it when I sit or lie down. Why would this be the case?
 
 
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 18 hours later
Brief Answer:
As below:

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thank you for writing back.

1. Pulsatile or Vascular Tinnitus is due to increased or turbulent blood flow in the vicinity of the inner ear. It is synchronous with the heartbeat.

2. Rule out the the following conditions:
a. A hearing loss detected by a Pure Tone Audiogram (PTA).
b. Routine ear examination to rule out earwax or fluid build up behind the ear drum detected by a Tympanogram (Impedance Audiogram).
c. Bloop pressure variations and anemia (Low hemoglobin).
d. Color doppler study of Neck vessels.
e. Cervical spine X-rays to rule out cervical spondylosis.
( c, d, e: since there is an increase with change of position, sitting or lying down).
f. Blood tests for thyroid hormones, cholesterol (Lipid Profile).
g. Temporal bone scans may pick up an aberrant blood vessel (rare).
h. Patulous Eustachian tube.
i. Benign Intracranial Hypertension (get an eye examination done).
j. Myoclonus of the ear muscles.
k. A dental reference for ruling out TMD (Temporo-Mandibular Joint Disorders).

3. If the above investigations are normal, the cause may not be found (idiopathic). Kindly let me know the results of your tests. This will help in suggesting further treatment. Most medications for tinnitus are given to improve blood flow to the inner ear. This may worsen your pulsatile tinnitus. Tinnitus cannot be cured, though it may disappear on its's own or be controlled by treatment.

I hope that I have answered your queries. If you have any further questions, I will be available to answer them.

Regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Whooshing sound in ears. What might be causing this? 9 minutes later
Thank you for your explanation and information. I doubt I will proceed with all of these suggested tests, as this sounds like a condition one just has to live with.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Sumit Bhatti 9 hours later
Brief Answer:
It's worth an attempt.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

Thank you for writing back.

1. As formidable as it seems, the above investigations are fairly simple.

2. Cochlear Tinnitus is something that you have to live with, however, pulsatile or vascular tinnitus can be controlled if the exact cause is located.

I hope that I have answered your queries. If you have any further questions, I will be available to answer them.

Regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
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