Pulse audible in one ear

The thread on ears has prompted me to ask this (usual caveats about medical advice in GQ taken on board)…

Over the past few months, every so often I get quite a loud rhythmic “whooshing” sound in time with my pulse, only in my left ear, along with a slightly “blocked” feeling in the s. Each episode lasts anything from a few minutes to a few hours, and it’s especially annoying at night when I’m trying to get to sleep.

What could be causing this?

Pulsatile tinnitus, which may indicate a vascular abnormality correlated with increased risk of stroke:


Is “s.” meant to be sinus? If so, that pressure may be the cause. Is it just the left sinus that feels blocked?

“s” was meant to be “ear”. I’m not sure how that happened!

Fear Itself, thanks for the link. Looks like I should mention it to a doctor. Having Googled “pulsatile tinnitus” it seems that there are many possible causes, though.

Well a blocked Eustachian tube will change the local arterial pressure changing the sound of the blood passing through which the ear will pick up. Such things can be caused by an infection, allergies, or a post nasal drip. See an otologist first for a general check up of the head-tubes.

Absolutely. Just get it checked out, because there are some causes that can be serious.

Love the UserName/post combo, jumping to the bad stuff in the differential!

Still, I do agree vascular etiologies (including glomus tumors of varying types) are in the differential diagnosis. A good example of how we have a great deal more to fear than fear itself. What about strokes?? (!!)

Having said that, it’s pretty common to have sound transmitted from the carotids and its arterial branches into the ear, creating this whooshing sensation.

I might add that recent technology would more likely use MRA (magnetic resonance angiography) to uncover vascular abnormalities; much less invasive than the arteriography mentioned in the Stroke article, which is now 25 years old.