Why do I hear a heartbeat in my ears?

Loza H. Jemjem, MD
Internal Medicine
There are a few different things that can cause beating in the ear. It's not common, but it can happen.
 
If you have a narrowing of the blood vessels, then when the blood flows, some noises can cause a murmur and you can hear it in your ear. Or if there is a lot of blood flowing through the neck vessel, patients may hear it. Or if you have fluid in the middle of your ear, that can cause this symptom, too.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
David R. Salley, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
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.
Howard E. Lewine, MD
Hospitalist
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.

Continue Learning about Tinnitus

Tinnitus

Tinnitus (pronounced TINN-uh-tus or tinn-I-tus) is a ringing or roaring sound that you hear in your ears when the sounds don't exist. Only you hear your tinnitus. Sometimes it's very loud and constant, and sometimes it comes and g...

oes.It is caused mostly by being exposed to loud noises (rock concerts, playing in an orchestra or on-the-job noise), but it can be a sign of underlying disease or reaction to a drug. There is no known cure for tinnitus, but there is good news about upcoming treatments.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.