Just about everyone has experienced getting a song stuck in their head. But have you ever heard a tune that isn’t actually playing?
You could have a condition known as, musical ear syndrome (MES) or musical tinnitus. This is similar to tinnitus, except you hear music or singing when there’s no actual source for the sounds.
If you are experiencing this, be aware that this is NOT an early sign of dementia. However, it may be the result of hearing loss.
Let’s learn a little more about MES, treatment options, and whether there are tricks to lower the volume.
Musical Ear Syndrome: An Explanation
MES is a chronic condition that causes musical auditory hallucinations. It’s actually fairly common but rarely diagnosed. It’s derived from hearing loss, but the basic details of this condition are still unknown.
The brain gathers information from your five senses to help you understand your environment. When you have complications with your hearing, the brain won’t completely shut off its functioning. Instead, the brain will find something to replace the lack of ability to hear with a sound that will stimulate it. It essentially fills in the void with noises that it has heard in your different environments. An assortment of sounds can be produced. When it comes to MES, the brain will replace the void with music.
Do we know the causes of Musical Ear Syndrome?
Even though the logistics of MES are still being researched and studied, some causes of the syndrome have been identified.
1. Hearing Loss
Disregarding other hallucinatory or cognitive symptoms, hearing music that is not actually playing may be caused by hearing loss. It is possible to have MES and other conditions like dementia.
2. Wearing a Cochlear Implant
Some reported cases that caused MES includes the insertion or removal of a cochlear implant.
The connection between cochlear implants and MES has not been thoroughly analyzed, so there is insufficient information. A study on 82 patients, showed that 22 percent had developed MES - 7 prior to implantation and 11 post-implantation.
Some medications can induce hallucinations, which include auditory hallucinations. These instances generally include hearing voices or noises.
It is very uncommon that medications would cause MES. If you do notice that your medication is causing any type of hallucinations, mention it to your healthcare provider.
What are treatments for Musical Ear Syndrome?
1. Hearing Aids
Getting treatment for hearing loss could reduce the symptoms. If your hearing can be improved with hearing aids, that could help stop your brain from trying to fill in the blanks.
If your MES is not being induced by your medication and you have run out of options, other medications might help. Here are some medications that have been used to treat MES:
There are possible side effects to every medication, so talk to your healthcare provider before selecting a treatment option.
Changes in Your Lifestyle
Other things that you can do, besides hearing aids and medical treatments, are little changes to your daily routine that may reduce the impact of MES.
If you can hear, whether it’s with or without a hearing aid, add some external noises. This may seem unusual or unhelpful, but listening to music or background noise might deter your brain from creating its own noise.
Strategies to practice if the music is distracting you:
Activities to practice in order to lower stress in connection to MES:
MES happens when you hear music even when there’s no outer source that is creating it.
It is created in your brain. It is NOT a psychological problem or symptom of dementia. It’s generally caused by some range of hearing loss, but it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact origin.
Treating hearing loss with hearing aids could be a solution to MES. If you have MES, find out whether you have hearing loss by contacting us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation.
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