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Dr. Arun Phophalia
Dr. Arun Phophalia, Doctor
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 35019
Experience:  MBBS MS. Post doctoral fellowship in Sports Medicine. General surgeon and sports medicine specialist
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I have an intermittent swishing sound in my left ear -

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I have an intermittent swishing sound in my left ear - almost like a moth was trapped in it. It's faster than a heartbeat. It comes and goes and is not there all the time. It is worse at night. I am concerned about carotid artery disease.


An heart beat sound in ear is called a pulsatile tinnitus. Since it is faster than the heartbeat, it may not be pulsatile tinnitus. Arterial vessels near the temporal bone may transmit sounds associated with turbulent blood flow, especially if the loudness of the sound exceeds the hearing threshold in that ear. This is usually responsible for pulsatile tinnitus. The petrous carotid system is the most common source, although other arteries may also be involved. This is not itself a serious condition, even if it is pulsatile tinnitus, although an evaluation for underlying atherosclerotic disease, should be done by otolaryngologist or neurotologist. Following investigations would be required; an MRI with contrast initially, followed by CT/CT angiography and subsequent interventional angiography if necessary. Tinnitus is not a disease but a symptom of some underlying health problem, usually in the ear, which would need physical examination and investigations to find out the cause.

Following are the common causes;

1) Exposure to persistent loud noise.

2) Ménière's disease.

3) Ear wax

4) Eustachian tube dysfunction

5) Environmental allergy

6) Blood pressure fluctuations

7) Diabetes and thyroid conditions

8) Medications are an extremely common cause of tinnitus

If you are taking any anti-inflammatory analgesics for any kind of pain like toothache, they should be stopped. All aspirin-containing products and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be discontinued. Supplements like vitamin A, vitamin C, cyanocobalamin, and nicotinic acid, with magnesium, zinc, or copper are suppose to help.

Ideally an examination by a physician or ENT specialist should be done for ascertaining the cause and further management. Read the resource on tinnitus;

Please feel free for your follow up questions.

Dr. Arun

Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you for this. I have taken anti-inflammatories from time to time for a painful knee. My GP looked in my ear and said it was clear of wax - she also did a test for eustachian tube and it was ok. The time I notice it most is at night when I am trying to sleep. Do you think there is anything I need to do urgently? My mother and father both died of strokes in their 60s but they smoked and did no exercise. I've never smoked and though I am overweight I am fairly fit.


This does not need any urgent treatment but cause should be ascertained. Hopefully the stoppage of anti-inflammatories may abate it.

It is pleasure and privilege assisting you.

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Dr. Arun

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