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A Complete Guide to Pulsatile Tinnitus (Heartbeat in Ears) and Anxiety

How to overcome anxiety tinnitus
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Dr. Bradley Noon




  • Pulsatile tinnitus is a condition in which you hear a rhythmic sound in one or both ears. These sounds often match the heartbeat.
  • High blood pressure, blood vessel diseases, ear infections, and other conditions can cause pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Anxiety is not a common cause of pulsatile tinnitus, but they may co-occur.
  • Treatment of pulsatile tinnitus varies depending on its root cause.

Have you ever heard the sound of your heartbeat echoing in your ears, particularly in stressful or anxious circumstances?

In this article, we explore the connection between pulsatile tinnitus and anxiety and offer you specific tips to control and lessen the associated discomfort. Whether you’ve had pulsatile tinnitus for a long time or are only now starting to notice symptoms, this guide will help you understand and manage the condition.

Trying to manage anxiety on your own? Contact MEDvidi to get professional help and cope with your symptoms.

What Is Pulsatile Tinnitus

Tinnitus is the term for hearing noises without an external source. One unique type of tinnitus is pulsatile tinnitus, in which you hear rhythmic sounds in one or both ears. It can be whooshing or pounding that syncs with the heartbeat sound that can be heard and felt, unlike typical tinnitus, which is sometimes characterized as a continuous ringing or buzzing.

Individuals with pulsatile tinnitus may “hear” a range of noises. Some people describe it as a low-pitched sound, like someone walking in the snow, while others feel it sounds incredibly loud like birds screeching.

Causes of Pulsatile Tinnitus

These conditions [1*] may cause the thumping or whooshing sound of pulsatile tinnitus:

  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Head trauma
  • An overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism)
  • Paget’s disease

Problems with blood flow in or near the ears [2*] are also often associated with this kind of tinnitus.

What Is Pulsatile Anxiety

The term “pulsatile anxiety” is not commonly used in medicine; it can be used to describe the anxiety caused by pulsatile tinnitus. Constantly hearing a heartbeat in the ears can be uncomfortable and unsettling, leading to increased stress. This fear can worsen the perception of the pulsating noise, creating a vicious cycle.

Can Anxiety Cause You to Hear Your Heartbeat in Your Ear

Yes, feeling your heartbeat in your ears can be a symptom of anxiety.

  • Anxiety attacks can trigger the “fight or flight” reaction, leading to increased blood pressure and heart rate. This heightened cardiovascular activity [3*] may intensify blood flow, resulting in a perceived pulsating or howling sound in the ears.
  • Anxious individuals tend to be more attuned to their physical sensations, including internal sounds. As a result, the sound of blood flow in the ear may become more noticeable due to this heightened awareness.
  • Anxiety can cause a person to tense their muscles [4*] more, especially in their jaw and neck. Pulsatile tinnitus is perceived as a result of this stress affecting blood vessels near the ears, which also changes blood flow.
  • Stress and anxiety can alter the vascular system [5*] , impacting how blood passes through the arteries and veins close to the ear, intensifying the sound of the heartbeat.

Symptoms of Anxiety-induced Pulsatile Tinnitus

The following symptoms can indicate pulsatile tinnitus due to heightened anxiety:

  • A whooshing, pounding, or buzzing in ears that matches the rhythm of your heartbeat.
  • A feeling of the sound of your heartbeat in your ears, particularly when you’re lying down or in a calm place.
  • An ear pressure may be felt in addition to the rhythmic noises.
  • The pulsating sound may vary in strength, sometimes becoming louder during elevated tension.
  • Breathing problems or a sensation of being out of breath are frequent during anxiety episodes.
  • Tense jaw, shoulders, and neck may affect blood flow and exacerbate pulsatile tinnitus.
  • Restlessness or difficulty staying still that frequently coexists with elevated anxiety.
  • Excessive sweating or shaking, especially when anxious or experiencing panic attacks.
  • Difficulty getting or remaining asleep, frequently made worse by the pulsating tinnitus, and being more audible in quiet settings.
Discuss your anxiety symptoms with mental health experts to get an accurate diagnosis.

Diagnosis of Anxiety-induced Pulsatile Tinnitus

An extensive assessment is necessary to identify the underlying reasons and diagnose anxiety-related tinnitus.

  • Comprehensive Medical Assessment: A healthcare provider will examine your health history to identify the patterns or triggers of heightened intensity, including specific stressful situations.
  • Anxiety and Stress Levels: Your doctor will assess your past experiences with anxiety, stress, or related mental health issues and their connection to the development and severity of tinnitus.
  • Physical Examination: The doctor will look for indications of muscle stress, vascular anomalies, or other physical disorders linked to tinnitus. They may also check for any problems, such as infections, blockages, or structural abnormalities, inside the middle ear or ear canal that may be causing your tinnitus.
  • Diagnostic Tests: These are also used to evaluate the auditory function and detect hearing loss, which is occasionally connected to tinnitus. They help detect difficulties with the vascular system, the bones, or the tissues surrounding the ears.

How to Stop Pulsing in the Ear?

Several techniques and methods can help to overcome anxiety tinnitus.

  • Stress Management: Anxiety and stress can worsen pulsatile tinnitus. Deep breathing techniques, yoga, and meditation are beneficial for reducing stress.
  • Healthy Diet: Reducing salt helps control blood pressure, which may lessen pounding in the ears. Limit or avoid nicotine and coffee, as they might aggravate tinnitus.
  • Removing Earwax: Eliminating an earwax obstruction can also help lessen tinnitus symptoms.

Some patients also have success with complementary or alternative therapies, such as:

  • Dietary supplements
  • Homeopathic treatments
  • Hypnosis
  • Acupuncture

Before trying any of these methods, talk with a healthcare provider.

Medical Treatments

Tinnitus treatment differs depending on the underlying cause but finding it can be challenging at times. Depending on the cause, your doctor can use the following methods to treat tinnitus:

  • Taking care of conditions related to blood vessels. This may necessitate surgery, medication, or another treatment to address the problem.
  • Hearing aids may be beneficial to improve your symptoms if your tinnitus is caused by age-related or noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Changing your medication. If a medication you’re currently using appears to be the source of your tinnitus, your healthcare provider may advise you to discontinue the medication, adjust its dosage, or switch to another treatment.
  • In many cases, tinnitus can’t be completely cured. So, a doctor may suggest an electronic device to reduce or suppress noise, such as white noise machines or masking devices. They can make your symptoms less noticeable.

Behavioral Therapies

To treat pulsatile anxiety, healthcare professionals can use behavioral treatments. These approaches aim to help the patients change how they feel about the symptoms:

  • Retraining therapy for tinnitus (TRT). TRT [6*] is typically administered by an audiologist or a tinnitus treatment center. It is a combination of sound masking and professional counseling. A patient wears an earpiece to mask tinnitus symptoms while also receiving directive counseling, which reduces distress from the symptoms over time.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). If you have severe tinnitus that is debilitating and prevents you from working, sleeping, and socializing, consider seeing a psychologist specializing in CBT. This therapy is used for many types of anxiety disorders and can help cope with symptoms of tinnitus [7*] .
Contact MEDvidi to begin your journey toward a calm and happy life.

Summing Up

Pulsatile tinnitus can be debilitating for some people, disrupting sleep and making it difficult to concentrate. Because it can be a symptom of a serious medical condition, consult with a healthcare provider if you frequently hear your pulse in your ears.

Frequently Asked Questions

Emotional stress impacts the vascular system, raising blood pressure and altering blood flow, all of which can cause or exacerbate pulsatile tinnitus. Furthermore, stress can intensify tinnitus perception.
Tinnitus and mental health are closely linked. Anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness are among the mental health conditions that chronic tinnitus can cause or worsen. On the other hand, mental health issues may make tinnitus more noticeable and intense.
Psychosomatic components in tinnitus refer to the possibility that psychological variables impact the severity and perception of the condition. Although vascular problems or hearing loss are common physiological causes of tinnitus, psychological factors such as stress and worry can greatly affect how tinnitus is experienced and managed.
Pulsatile tinnitus frequently signals an underlying vascular problem that may need medical attention, so it is seen as a warning sign. Aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, carotid artery disease, and other vascular anomalies can be potential causes.
Living a long life with tinnitus is possible, especially if you regularly have medical check-ups and monitor your well-being. Although tinnitus can be bothersome and persistent, many people can effectively manage the condition. Treatment options such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), sound therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes can greatly improve the quality of life for those with tinnitus. If pulsatile tinnitus is persistent, consider seeing a physician to rule out physiological causes.


7 sources
  1. Pulsatile Tinnitus: Differential Diagnosis and Radiological Work-Up
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  2. Pulsatile tinnitus relieved by ear pressure case report
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  3. Physiology, Cardiovascular
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  4. Muscle tension in generalized anxiety disorder: elevated muscle tonus or agitated movement?
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  5. Mental Stress and Its Effects on Vascular Health
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  6. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) for tinnitus
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  7. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Tinnitus: Evidence and Efficacy
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Dr. Bradley Noon



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in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.