One sided pulsatile tinnitus: visit to ENT

This may be a double post - thought I'd posted about it yesterday, but it can't find it, so please be gentle with me. I've been aware of rather annoying "whooshing" in my left ear since the beginning of the year. It seems to be in the same rythym as my heart beating, and sounds very like what you hear if taking blood pressure the old fashioned way with a stethoscope. The tinnitus stops if I press against the mastoid bone behind the ear, or on that side of the neck.

I saw my GP and she referred me to ENT, where I had my appointment yesterday. I had my hearing tested first, then saw the doctor. After she took a family history, and a record of all my meds, she showed me that the hearing tests demonstrated markedly asymetrical results. No hearing loss that I'm aware of, but it seems there is. The doc wants to check on the nerves and blood vessels.

So, I'm referred for an MRI of the head area. The doc asked if I was claustrophobic and I decided I wasn't any more claustrophobic than anyone else. After, I googled what an MRI of the head involves. I didn't realise how long they could take ๐Ÿ˜ฑ Has anyone had such an MRI? Any tips?

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  • I really didn't expect a referral from the GP because the ear gives no pain and there's no infection. The noise is just annoying. My new GPs are very clear that they don't have enough experience of anything auto immune related, hence the referral. I hope you can get further with your GP after getting your dentist's advice x The clinic yesterday said that if my MRI doesn't show any problems, then it's just something to live with (as in most tinnitus cases I understand)

  • Yes. Been there, done that and it's nothing to be scared about I promise.

    I expect you have been referred for an MRI of your ear canals, nerves etc. My MRI took about 15 mins Max, that's from me going to the appointment and leaving. I was given ear plugs to dim the noise because it can be a little noises.

    They essentially will be wanting to rule out an acoustic neuroma (do not freak about this). The team are just following guideline that if a patient presents with tinnitus, especially worse on one side they get an MRI to rule out an acoustic neuroma. This is an exceptionally rare finding.

    My MRI was normal and the ENT Consultant explained to me that Lupus can cause inflammation of the nerves in the ear, which in turn causes tinnitus. Whenever I'm in a flare I get tinnitus, if I increase my steroids then it goes. I also have EDS which can cause problems with tinnitus.

    Basically, she said any Connective tissue disease can cause tinnitus due to the inflammatory process.

    I hope it goes ok for you. Please don't worry. The team that you are under are following guidelines and investigating you. At least they aren't dismissing your symptoms.

    Since being discharged from ENT I have been referred to the tinnitus clinic to see if they have any gadgets to help me. I'm kind of hoping to meet Q from the Bond films!!

    Good luck and don't worry x

  • ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘ grrrreat explanation! I first had this explained by ENT, but not as well as you've explained it. You're possibly familiar with this website:

    ๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ€ coco

  • Really, really helpful happytulip ๐ŸŒˆ I'm not worried that they'll find anything, less surprised now that they are going to have a look, and soooooo relieved that it'll be so fast. I'm really not claustrophobic in general, just somewhat averse to a clanking metal box x

    Do they tell you when the noise is going to happen? Or is the noise continuous? I may not be able to keep still if it's a sudden crash x

  • I've had two MRI on my head recently. Both took about 40 minutes each. My head was in a kind of brace thing so movement is restricted. Had earphones on with music playing๐ŸŽง. The noise is loud but not sudden. It sort of winds up and varies in frequency, some are low and growly, some are a bit higher pitched but nothing that is going to frighten your socks off! I just lie there with my eyes shut and although the noise is loud, I find it soothing and nod off to sleep.๐Ÿ˜ดDon't be afraid.

  • Sorry just realised this is a two week old conversation! I'm glad you survived and got on alright.

  • Yes I've had this MRI scan. But you can request for an "open MRI scaner"? That way you won't be claustrophobic? I will also had the full 40 full body, metal coffin job.

    The head scan was 10 mins from set up to Finnish no big deal. They are checking to make sure you don't have any brain tumours that affect hearing? It's no big deal honestly. Don't get worked up.

  • Hi i've had two MRIs and i'm very claustrophobic .they do take time but if you tell the staff that you might feel a bit claustrophobic they will attach a mirror just above your head so you can see the room in front of you ,it worked wonders for me. Good luck .Elfie

  • I have - but I closed my eyes and wished I could go to sleep but it's a bit noisy unfortunately! They give you headphones to dull the sound a bit and i think there was some music.

    HT has explained it all far better than I could!!

  • Thanks for the help, everyone x

  • lucky...mine wasn't hard to tolerate. Sorry you have to endure this...hoping to hear about it from you dear lupiknits

    This link has helped me a lot to understand my version of this sort of thing:

    Happytulip's reply is a masterclass...she explains this better than most medics have ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ

    ๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ˜˜๐Ÿ€๐Ÿ˜˜ coco

  • Another good link coco โ˜˜๏ธ x

  • Ask the MRI tech to put a cloth over your eyes or bring one with you to use. Im not claustrophobic but when I opened my eyes in the mri of my head I got very anxious. Ive had many mri test since then and covering my eyes continues to help.

    I also have tinnitus it started about 4 years ago after a 2 month flare up and hasn't stopped. The ringing will get really high pitched at times but mostly just a steady low pitch ring. Only time it turns into a whooshing sound is when I get a migraine and it seems to be my blood pressure because its in a rhythm with my heartbeat.

    Im surprised so many of you have this too. My drs ignore this symptom so Ive learned to just live with it. At first I thought I would go mad from it but now I dont really think about until it gets to an extremely loud buzzing.

  • Hi , I have had many MRI scans for hearing problems , unfortunately I did have an acoustic neuroma , they are usually 10 to 15 minutes , I just closed my eyes and tried to think of other things . They give you a buzzer to hold in your hand so that if you do start to panic you can press it and they will get you out straight away . I hope you don't have a bad result , if you don't have any balance problems it's unlikely to be a tumour , good luck x

  • Hello Lupiknits, i have had this tinnitus for years and all i can say is try and ignore it. I also have deafness which is a nuisance, I have had the MRI test and results are normal. They gave me exercises to do with my nose and breathing. Not much help! Not much they can do.

    They will put you headphones on then you can listen to the music. Try and relax it doesn't hurt. Good luck

  • Thanks for the close your eyes and cloth over eyes tips, everyone!

  • Sorry Lupi I have just seen this post.

    Yes, I have pulsatile tinnitus also and was told by ENT it is CTD related as the nerves are irritated by the inflammatory process. The pulsating is worse when the small vessels are inflamed or aggravated. Various tests showed no damage as such so no further treatment was necessary apart from the usual CTD meds which help.

    Happy tulip explained this perfectly and as she said, the MRI is mainly to exclude an acoustic neuroma which is rare but needs to be ruled out.

    The MRI itself I find awful but I'm very claustrophobic. The noise is quite loud and ranges from rhythmic bangs to whirling sounds and thuds but this doesn't bother me at all. They give you ear plugs and also headphones with music so although you can still hear the noisy machine, its not too bad.

    The worse thing for me is the tight small space inside the MRI machine. It is made worse by the cage type thing they put over your head and face. This freaks me out and reminds me of Hannibal lecter from silence of the lambs. I always have to take someone in with me to hold my hand (or ankle) and do not open my eyes from the minute I'm on the sliding table until its all over. Seeing the inside of the tunnel or face cage would be too much for me so eyes stay tight shut!!

    Staff are usually very patient and understanding and will let you get comfortable and find what works for you and if you do get nervous, you have a buzzer in your hand to alert them to stop and get you out.

    I have had many MRI's and although for me, they don't get any easier, I have never had a bad experience or had anything horrible happen.

    You'll be fine. X

  • Hey Georgie! Just back. The worst part for me was lying on my back on the table thingy., and nothing could be put under the base of my spine and ischial tuberosity bits. The next worst, yes, the Hannibal Lecter face mask. Mind you, not many lambs could be heard through the banging and crashing. Earplugs and headphones helped.

    Results in a week, but i'm not expecting anything to show x

  • Well done and glad it all went ok. Keep us posted when you get results X

  • Yes; I've had several MRI's; it's a very similar procedure to an X-ray. It doesn't hurt, but it's very noisy. It's all done with powerful magnets being whizzed around your head, but (like an x-ray) you don't see anything because its all encased in plastic, BUT you have to leave outside anything that's susceptible to magnetism, like your watch. Maybe belt buckle, magnetic or steel jewellery. If you have any steel implanted you have to let the Radiographers know. Whereas an X-ray is blanked out by metal, causing most things under it to be in shadow, the MRI doesn't seem to be worried by Stainless steel, and Titanium, and although X-ray only shows up the hard stuff clearly, the MRI shows up soft flesh too, which is very useful. It showed up my two brain tumours clearly for identification and excision 15 years ago, and I've been scanned by MRI for several other complaints more recently, including Tinnitus - you see I don't just write funny stories!

    End of explanation. I'm not a medical person, so hopefully Paul or someone medical can explain more or better than I can!!

  • Thanks everyone. My results showed "no significant abnormalities". Pleased about that. I'll be checking whether that is med-speak for "nothing wrong" or "nothing much wrong" however. I have an enquiring mind.

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