Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. A common problem, tinnitus affects about 15 to 20 percent of people. Tinnitus isn't a condition itself — it's a symptom of any number of underlying condition including a circulatory system disorder.
Although tinnitus is very common, tinnitus caused by a blood vessel disorder is fairly rare. It commonly causes a type of tinnitus called pulsatile tinnitus. In all causes, treating the condition should ease the symptoms. Pulsatile tinnitus that seems timed to a heartbeat, specifically points to a vascular problem. People with pulsatile tinnitus need to seek medical attention.
Cholesterol and other deposits will likely build up with age and major blood vessels near to your middle and inner ear lose some of their elasticity — the ability to flex or expand slightly with each heartbeat. That causes blood flow to become more forceful, making it easier for your ear to detect the beats and whooshes of blood flow. Treating the condition should ease the symptoms.
Tumours that presses on blood vessels in your head or neck, although extremely rare can cause tinnitus and other symptoms (vascular neoplasm). People should always be referred for a head scan as a precautionary measure for this type of tinnitus.
Hypertension and factors that increase blood pressure, such as stress, alcohol and caffeine, can make tinnitus more noticeable. Worrying about tinnitus unfortunately increases stress which in turn makes the tinnitus more bothersome which is where treatment can really help.
Narrowing or kinking in a neck artery (carotid artery) or vein in your neck (jugular vein) can cause turbulent, irregular blood flow, leading to tinnitus.
A condition called arteriovenous malformation (AVM), abnormal connections between arteries and veins, can result in tinnitus. This type of tinnitus generally occurs in only one ear.