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Why do I hear a heartbeat in my ears?

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.

Dr. Mark S. Schultz, DO
Family Practitioner

There are many causes for hearing heartbeat sounds in your ears, a condition known as pulsatile tinnitus. Causes for this condition include:

  • ear infection or allergy causing fluid retention in the middle ear
  • conductive hearing loss
  • high blood pressure
  • carotid artery disease
  • blood vessel disorders

You should visit your doctor in case this sound doesn’t go away on its own or intensives. Most of the time pulsatile tinnitus is nothing to worry about, although rarely, this may be a symptom of a serious condition.

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.

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.

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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.