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Disturbing, rapid blood turbulence in my head

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Prefontim, Jun 29, 2023.

  1. Prefontim

    Prefontim New Member

    I have been dealing with a very disturbing symptom as of late, and I'm struggling to determine if it's TMS, so I could really use some opinions or experience from others to help me gain the confidence to believe this is TMS, or not if it may not be TMS.
    First off, I'm a 41 year old male who has had many TMS symptoms over the years and no major non TMS medical issues. My blood pressure readings have always been in the normal range, though I am about 40 lbs overweight and my cholesterol level is holding steady at 130.

    It started a few years ago, where I would have these 1-2 week periods in a year where I started to feel rapid blood turbulence in my head, usually near my right ear. It was worse at night and would disrupt my sleep. The blood flow would be usually twice as fast as my heartrate, though the beat would be somewhat erratic. It can also appear in multiple places in my head, but most of the time near my right ear. If I breathed deeply, or press my finger into my neck or my ear, I could temporarily get the rhythm to slow down to the rhythm of my pulse and subside in how much i can feel my it. I would tell myself this was TMS, and increase my daily journaling and the episode would subside eventually. I had 2 episodes like this, but as of 6 months ago, the 3rd episode has never really went away. During the day, I rarely have the issue, but at night, it's there and is getting more disruptive over time. It's not totally consistent every night however, some nights I feel mostly normal. As I lay down to sleep, it doesn't start right up, but when I wake up the middle of the night, I can almost always feel the rapid blood flow and it's hard to get back to sleep. Also, during the day, if I doze off, even when I'm sitting up, I'll usually wake up with the rapid flood flow feeling.

    I have started to worry that some non TMS cause has caused this gradual worsening of symptoms, such as high cholesterol or atherosclerosis. I have gotten a head CTA scan, which came back normal and an ultrasound on my carotid artery to check for fatty build-up, and the build-up was 'minimal' at 11-125 cm/s. Still, I remain worried that this issue is not all TMS, and so I have now scheduled a meeting with a Cardiovascular surgeon to see if they know what this is. You see, I can't find any information on the internet to see if this has a name. It doesn't appear to be a reported symptom of atherosclerosis or high cholesterol.

    I try to tell myself daily that this is simply a reduction or alteration of blood flow in my head, which would be classic TMS, but my fears of arterial build-up and the slowly worsening symptoms prevent my belief in it being fully TMS.

    Has anyone else ever had a TMS symptom like this? Based on my descriptions, do you think it's a reasonable that a 41 year old would have a non TMS issue like this? Should I abandon the non-TMS route and try to just convince myself that this is fully TMS?

    While I wait for my next Dr appointment, I am trying to increase my TMS work (journaling, reading), though any insight from other users will be helpful to me I think.

    Thank you for your support,
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hey Tim, I can totally understand why this is a disturbing sensation. I sometimes wake up with a sense that I can "hear" my blood pulsing past my ears, and this will be something that might occur for several days in a row and then disappear again. Is it related to high blood pressure (which I have)? Who knows, but I can get it to stop by consciously relaxing my jaw, face and neck muscles and taking deep therapeutic breaths.

    As for this:
    My friend, this is THE million dollar question asked by every TMSer about every symptom they've ever had. Age is completely irrelevant, as I know you know.

    The only true response is that when it comes to TMS, anything is possible.

    That being said, we don't mess around with possible cardiac symptoms. Get checked out, and move on when you're cleared. As you and I both suspect you will be ;)
  3. Prefontim

    Prefontim New Member

    Age is irrlevant? While I have had no major non-TMS health issues, such as anything related to my cardiovascular system, I know that as I age, the risk of those issues rise. Had this same symptom happened to me in my 20s, I would find it very easy to believe it was entirely TMS. But, being in my 40s and overweight, it becomes harder for me to convince myself with symptoms like these. If it is TMS, I suppose that my subconscious is using this symptom because it knows my thought process, so it knows this symptom will be more deceptive for me
  4. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    I have a form of tinnitus called pulsatile tinnitus which means I hear the blood rushing through my ear but mine is in time with my heartbeat. I have had very extensive tests and it’s all benign. If it isn’t in time with your heartbeat it is less worrying, as it’s less likely to be vascular, so given I have the most worrying type and am fine, your manifestation seems highly likely to be TMS as well as long as all the appropriate tests come back ok. It’s annoying, sure, but mine is in both ears and used to be so debilitatingly noisy I couldn’t hear the tv. Now I only notice it at night if I turn my head all the way in one direction and so I rarely think of it. I’d say it’s 80% improved, and it’s all because I stopped fearing it and obsessing over it. I slept with special headphones for years to drown it out but then one day I just stopped and I’ve never needed them since. Even the treatment I was given for it was brain retraining, so this is very much the scientifically approved method.

    you mention about it being something about altered blood flow - it could be, for example with me, I notice I hear it more when I’m really dysregulated, have low or high blood pressure (I rarely have high bp so mine is usually cos it’s low) and as such, my blood flow increases to compensate. However, the reason you’re hearing it is not because it’s dangerous, nor is that the reason it’s got louder. You’re hearing it because your brain has chosen to hear it - firstly as a signal to you due to unresolved stress, and then now because it perceives it as dangerous and won’t stop listening to it as a way to protect you from the danger. The only reason it shifts and gets louder is because your blood flow changes, but it should change, that’s healthy! The only problem is that your brain is fixated on it. And the reason it is worse at night is that there are way less noises to distract you and your body is preparing for sleep so it is on higher alert for danger and your brain is switching into a lower frequency.

    you must get the appropriate tests. But after that, see above. If all comes out clear, you’re gonna be totally fine, I promise. I’ve had it for 12 years and I’m still here. How to calm it down? Stop focusing on it, stop fearing it, pay attention to other noises whenever you can, use gradual exposure to silence and manage your stress. You got this!!
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  5. Prefontim

    Prefontim New Member

    My ENT diagnosed my issue as pulsatile tinnitus, but she is wrong, because I can't hear mine and it's not in time with my pulse. It's something I can only feel, though in some ways, that's worse that something you can hear, as it's harder to mask. I also have regular tinnitus and it hardly bothers me as I can mask it during quiet times.

    Nevertheless, the 'attention' aspect of my issue also plays a role, as does fear and anxiety. Also, I met with a heart surgeon the other day, who said it sounded like SVT (Supraventricular tachycardia), and he wanted me to get a heart monitor for a month to confirm. I declined as I know this is unrelated to my heart. It's frustrating to not be able to find anyone with knowledge of this, but that very fact does make me think it's TMS, as TMS symptoms tend to make no sense and have no structural basis, so doctors are mystified by them
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2023
  6. Soph1802

    Soph1802 Peer Supporter

    From reading what you’ve said, what I am hearing is that deep down you know it is TMS but your anxiety is trying to convince you otherwise, and you’re stuck in the obsession about it which is hard to break. I’m in exactly the same place, so there is no judgement here, only empathy. I totally get it. I believe that part of the reason we get these symptoms is we don’t listen to ourselves and trust ourselves enough in the first place. Trusting ourselves that we know it is TMS and can lean into that diagnosis and trust the process is part of overcoming that issue. You got this.
    Syl and JanAtheCPA like this.

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