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Pulsating sound on plugging ears, faster than pulse rate, ear ringing. Hearing test done, normal. Causes for sound?

Answered by
Dr.
Dr. Naveen Kumar

ENT Specialist

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 2433 Questions

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Posted on Sat, 16 Jun 2012 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Question: when i plug my ears i can hear a rapid pulsating sound. its approximately 4-5 times faster than my pulse rate. is this normal? thanks.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 1 hour later
Hi

Thanks for the query

Rapid pulsating of the sound (also known as pulsatile tinnitus) occurs due to various causes; to mention a few - atherosclerosis, palatal myoclonus, small vessel disease, multiple sclerosis, etc.
This can be either pathological or non-pathological;
1.     Block in the external auditory canal reduces the background noise enabling us to hear the sounds produced inside the skull.
2.     Sometimes narrowing of the small blood vessels give rise to whooshing type of pulsatile tinnitus, which are heard in a quiet environment. Secondly, when these sounds combine with the sounds produced by the weakening of the inner ear apparatus, there is this tinnitus.
3.     Finally, palatal myoclonus which is the spasm of the muscles in the soft palate, can also cause pulsatile sounds which are rapid (around 60-200 beats per minute), repetitive and intermittent.

Hence, without a complete examination of the ear it is very difficult to pin point the exact cause of your problem. I would suggest you to consult a good ENT specialist for the same.

Hope I have answered your query; I will be available for the follow-up queries.

Regards
Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Prasad
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Follow up: Dr. Naveen Kumar 21 minutes later
I recently went in for a hearing test due to experienced ringing in my ear and everything was said to be normal. Its suspected that the ringing has to due to muscle tension in my nech and upper back and can be relieved by stretching these areas. This pulsating sound can only be heard when I plug my ears with my fingers. I can't make it disappear and only notice it when my ears are plugged.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 20 hours later
Hello.

Thanks for writing back.

As I had mentioned in my previous post, one of the causes of pulsatile tinnitus could be the muscle spasms. And sometimes, when it is combined with the sounds emitted by the inner ear cochlea the sounds can be harrowing.

These sounds are most commonly heard when the ears are plugged, which is due to the cancellation of the masking back ground noise. You can try doing neck stretching exercises, also drink plenty of water, avoid smoking and take medicines such as Vitamin B-Complex containing Ginkobiloba which can reduce the tinnitus.

Hope, this helps to solve your query. Please accept my answer in case you do not have further queries.

Regards.
Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Jyoti Patil
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