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Causes of Palpitations and Tinnitus

author image Joe Sharg
Joe Sharg holds a Master of Public Health degree from the Harvard School of Public Health. His first published article was in the "Journal of Neuro-Oncology" in 1999. Since then, his work has been featured in numerous medical journals, on CNN and in "The New York Times" and "USA Today."
Causes of Palpitations and Tinnitus
People with palpitations can feel their heart beating.

Tinnitus is a term that describes ringing in the ears. Usually it occurs in both ears and is only perceptible to the person experiencing the ringing. In rare cases, however, tinnitus goes along with other conditions that may be the cause of the ringing. Vascular disorders and elevated blood pressure are both uncommon but possible causes of tinnitus. Those conditions can also lead to palpitations, which is a conscious awareness of feeling the heart beat that indicates possible heart or blood vessel abnormalities.

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Overactive Thyroid

When the thyroid releases an elevated amount of thyroid hormone, it can alter the heart rate and blood pressure. The elevated or irregular heart rate caused by that condition can be felt as palpitations. At the same time, as the blood pressure increases in the blood vessels around the ear, the sound from those blood vessels can cause tinnitus. In those cases, the tinnitus may sound like a pulsation similar to a heart beat.

Panic Disorders

A panic disorder can elevate the heart rate and blood pressure. As a result of the panic, hormones, such as epinephrine, are released into the blood and can make the heart work harder to pump blood. That can be felt as palpitations. At the same time, the blood pressure also increases and can cause temporary sensations of tinnitus.


Pregnancy increases the amount of work the heart has to do to pump extra blood to supply the growing fetus. Palpitations are common during pregnancy. By raising the blood pressure, pregnancy can also lead to tinnitus.

Decongestant Medications

Decongestant medications, such as Sudafed, contain low doses of stimulant drugs that can raise the heart rate and blood pressure. The elevated heart rate can cause palpitations, while the elevated blood pressure can lead to tinnitus.

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