Comprehensive ENT care

At Sky Ridge Medical Center, our ENT specialists, called otolaryngologists, provide comprehensive treatment for patients suffering from chronic ear, nose or throat disorders, such as sinusitis and other rhinology conditions. We offer therapeutic and diagnostic surgical services on both an inpatient and outpatient basis.

We also offer treatment services for pediatric ENT and sinus complications.

Types of ENT problems we treat include:

  • Allergies
  • Sinusitis
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Pulsatile tinnitus
  • Swimmer’s ear
  • Deviated septum
  • Sleep apnea
  • TMJ pain
  • Tonsils and adenoids

Pulsatile tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is the “perception of hearing a “whooshing” sound in the ears that is synchronous with the heartbeat." Pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of a potentially serious underlying health condition.

Pulsatile tinnitus usually originates within the blood vessels inside the head or neck region when disturbed blood flow occurs. This results from either increased blood flow or a narrowing of the opening of the blood vessel, both of which result in turbulent blood flow that can be heard in the ears. In this regard, it is totally different from and independent of continuous tinnitus which results from damage to the inner ear and/or hearing nerve.

Signs and symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus

  • Whooshing or roaring sounds
  • Headache
  • Vision changes
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with balance
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

In some cases, the noise improves or worsens with head turning, lying down or pressing on the soft tissues behind or below the ear.

Risk factors for pulsatile tinnitus

  • Ear infection
  • Meniere's disease
  • Allergies
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tumors
  • Thyroid problems
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)

Causes of pulsatile tinnitus

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Head and neck tumors
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypertension and factors that increase blood pressure
  • Turbulent blood flow
  • Narrowing or kinking in a neck artery (carotid artery) or vein in your neck (jugular vein)
  • Malformation of capillaries
  • Arteriovenous malformation (AVM), abnormal connections between arteries and veins

Treatment options for pulsatile tinnitus

There are various treatment options for pulsatile tinnitus from medication and mechanical devices to surgery or lifestyle changes. If you have an abnormal sound in one or both of your ears, see a doctor, such as an ENT, audiology specialist or a neuro-interventional specialist.

A healthcare provider specializing in vascular diseases of the head and neck (neurointerventional surgeon) should see patients with sudden onset pulsatile tinnitus as soon as possible. If tinnitus improves when pressing on soft tissues of the head or neck, a serious vascular condition may be causing the whooshing sound. “Rapid and accurate diagnosis is crucial in these cases,” say our experts at Sky Ridge.