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There can be many reasons for hearing your heartbeat in your ear, which is also known as pulsatile tinnitus. Usually, it's from a blood vessel being close to the eardrum. Sometimes, you'll hear it more when you lay on the affected side because you are putting pressure on the ear. Often, the sound is caused by something benign, like fluid in the ear. High blood pressure can cause it as well. Very rarely, vascular tumors in the middle ear can cause that symptom. And, even more rarely, aneurysms can cause that sound. Talk to your doctor if you hear the sound for over a week.
What you are describing is called pulsatile tinnitus. Most often people complain of a whooshing or thumping sound, often in sync with one's heartbeat.
It is actually quite common. Often people will be aware of their heartbeat in their ear, similar to what you describe. Sometimes, another person can hear the noise by getting very close to your ear and listening carefully. Or your doctor can hear it with a stethoscope.
Usually pulsatile tinnitus is not a cause for concern, especially if it lasts just a short time. Similar to you, many people are more aware of it at night.
However, you should contact your doctor. High blood pressure, ear problems and an overactive thyroid gland can cause pulsatile tinnitus. On rare occasions, pulsatile tinnitus can be a symptom of an abnormality of the carotid artery.
If you hear a pulse-like noise in your ears, it may be pulsatile tinnitus. This is a rare condition caused when your blood vessels make sounds you can hear. Pulsatile tinnitus is almost always benign, but it could be caused by a serious underlying condition such as atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) or a tumor.
Hearing a heartbeat in your ears can indicate a hardening of the blood vessels in the neck. In this video, Dave Salley, MD, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Chippenham & Johnston-Willis Hospitals, discusses what other noises you might hear, and what they mean.
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