CJW Doc Minute: Why do I hear a heartbeat in my ears?

(light gleeful music) (clock ticking) [Narrator] Why do I hear a heartbeat in my ears? This is a problem that
happens with some frequency. But before we get into the specifics of hearing a heartbeat in the ear. Let's just broadly cover the
idea of noise in the ears. Hearing noise in your ears
happens for several reasons. When it's a steady
buzzing sort of a noise, that's typically a symptom
of mild hearing loss.

There can also be a rapid, almost twitch that you can hear in your ear. Which can happen when
there is a muscle spasm in the small muscles that
are attached to the eardrum or some of the muscles in the soft palate. A twitch in either of
those, as you might have in an eyelid or a muscle,
anywhere in the body, can be heard but that would be more of a high frequency
rapid sort of a thumping. If you really are hearing
your heartbeat in your ear, that usually is something different. The most common reason for
hearing a heartbeat in your ear is simply, hardening of
the vessels that carry a large volume of blood through the neck, through the skull base
to and from the brain. The jugular vein and carotid artery run very close to the
eardrum, and so over time, if those vessels become more rigid, it's easier to hear the flow through them and that would be more common
in a very quiet setting or if your ear happens to be full of fluid from an infection or from
obstruction of the tube that is supposed to drain your ear into the back of your throat.

So with fluid behind the eardrum, the eardrum doesn't move properly, doesn't vibrate normally and
doesn't conduct sound normally, which can tune you into the
sounds inside your head. And that's the blood flow
through those large vessels. Now there can be more serious reasons for hearing a heartbeat in your ear. There can be vascular
tumors in or near the ear and so if you do have a heartbeat that you're hearing in your ear that goes on for a long time, it'd be wise to have that
checked out by a physician. In addition to vascular tumors, again there's long-term
fluid behind the eardrum can be an issue that needs to be seen. There can be aberrations in
the course of the large vessels that flow through the
ears or near the ears so that they even come in
contact with the eardrum, that would be an issue that you'd want to know about as well. And lastly, one of the less common causes for hearing heartbeat in your ear and one of the more common causes if you're hearing it in both ears would be an increase in
the pressure in the fluid that surrounds the brain,
the cerebrospinal fluid.

An increase in pressure
there can cause you to hear a heartbeat and more likely in both ears..

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