Symptoms of Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus may manifest as different sounds for different patients. Some describe it as a low-pitched sound, like the sound of someone marching in the snow; others describe a much higher, screeching sound, like that made by birds. Whatever the pitch or intensity, the sounds associated with pulsatile tinnitus are in synch with the pulse.

Some patients with pulsatile tinnitus also suffer from idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH, also known as pseudotumor cerebri), which is a condition that consists of high pressure in the fluid around the brain and is characterized by headaches, dizziness, hearing loss, and visual disturbances.

Anyone experiencing symptoms such as these should be examined by a qualified physician, including an interventional neuroradiologist and otolaryngologist (ENT). If the cause of pulsatile tinnitus is identified as venous sinus stenosis (narrowing of a vein in the brain), a minimally invasive treatment in which a stent is inserted into the narrowed vein can restore healthy blood flow and eliminate symptoms. (Find out more about this surgery.) If the cause is a tumor, AVM, high blood pressure, or other identifiable condition, treating that condition often resolves the tinnitus.

Find out more about diagnosing and treating pulsatile tinnitus.

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  • Assistant Professor of Radiology in Neurological Surgery (Manhattan and Queens)
Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan) or 718-303-3739 (Queens)
  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery (Brooklyn and Manhattan)
Phone: 212-746-2821 (Manhattan); 718-780-3070 (Brooklyn)

Reviewed by: Srikanth Boddu, MD, MSc
Last reviewed/updated: September 2023

Weill Cornell Medicine Neurological Surgery 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787