Many patients experience tinnitus which can be defined as any noise perception in the ear or head. Most people hear a ringing sound, but others report cricket-like chirping, roaring and sometimes even a rhythmic thumping. Although most forms of tinnitus are associated with hearing loss and there are limited treatment options available, all tinnitus symptoms should be evaluated by an Ear Nose and Throat doctor because they may be a symptom of a bigger problem.
Having worked for a neurotologist for 25 years, I have seen some very interesting ear and hearing pathologies. One of the most fascinating is the glomus tumor, which often presents itself with a thumping or pulsatile (pulsed) tinnitus. A glomus tumor is a benign mass which is fed by blood vessels so you can actually “hear” your heart beat. It usually on or next to the eardrum. It is a tricky one to diagnose because it makes the eardrum red, due to being fed by the blood vessels. It is often misdiagnosed as an ear infection, but this condition will not resolve when treated as such.
If you have a pulsatile tinnitus, put your fingers on a pulse point and see if the beating is the same as your pulse. You can either check your pulse on your wrist or on your neck. If they are the same, you should definitely consult with your doctor. Your pulsatile tinnitus may also be accompanied by a conductive hearing loss in that ear. Treatment usually requires surgical removal of the tumor. These tumors can grow, which makes surgery more difficult if you wait. Consult your doctor if you have any type of tinnitus or hearing loss. Your condition will always have a better outcome when treated early.
~ Susan Rardin, M.A., F-AAA