Objective Tinnitus

With objective tinnitus it is possible for someone other than the patient to hear the sound. Objective tinnitus can be caused by problems with bones in the middle ear, vascular deformities, or involuntary muscle contractions. Objective tinnitus is uncommon and usually treatable by correcting the mechanical or vascular cause.   The examiner can hear the noise generated by structures near the ear that the objective tinnitus sufferer hears. Most tinnitus is subjective, which means only the patient perceives sounds. The rarer objective tinnitus is different. 

Pulsatile or Rhythmic Tinnitus

Objective pulsatile tinnitus

Medical experts also call objective tinnitus either pulsatile or rhythmic tinnitus. The sound the patient hears pulses because it relates to the beating of the heart or movement of blood through the arteries.  Objective tinnitus often moves in rhythm with the heartbeat.  The causes of objective tinnitus fall into categories according to the site of its generation. 

  • Arterial (relating to the arteries) 
  • Arteriovenous (related to arteries and veins)
  • Venous (related to the network of veins that carry blood to your heart from your organs)   

Causes of Objective Tinnitus

Causes of objective tinnitus

High Blood Pressure - When blood pressure is too high, blood pounds against the walls of your arteries. Powerful blood flow around the ears is easier for your ears to pick up.

Atherosclerosis - When cholesterol build up in your arteries creates blockages, blood flow becomes turbulent. As a result, you hear a rhythmic thrum in your ears. 

Turbulent Blood Flow - Narrowed arteries or veins in your neck may also change the blood flow to and from the head.  Pulsatile tinnitus can be the result.

Head or Neck Tumors - Objective tinnitus can also result from a tumor pressing on a vein.

Abnormal Capillaries - Any problems with the capillaries connecting your arteries to your veins can cause pulsatile tinnitus. 

Intracranial Hypertension - Elevated fluid pressure in the brain sometimes causes tinnitus.

Basal and Sinus Vein Anomalies - Problems in the vein to the brain or sinus veins can be a cause, too.


Treatment for Objective Tinnitus

Treatments of objective tinnitus

To treat objective tinnitus, doctors work at correcting the underlying conditions causing the symptoms.  High blood pressure and vein and artery conditions are often treated with medication and lifestyle changes like:

  • Reducing stress
  • Low-sodium diet
  • Increasing exercise
  • Eliminating smoking

Surgery or a catheter procedure can correct problems in arteries or veins.  A stent in a blocked artery opens it up and improves blood flow. Tumors would be removed by surgery.

 A doctor diagnosing objective tinnitus may actually be able to hear the pulsing sound the sufferer experiences. Because the cause of objective tinnitus concerns the cardiovascular system, the buzzing, ringing, humming, or clicking tends to be rhythmic. Correcting the problem in the system often eliminates the tinnitus.

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