Have you ever experienced a musical hallucination? Have you clearly heard a song, with or without words, only to realize it’s just in your head? Musical ear syndrome is more common than you might think, and affects around 5% of the population. These auditory hallucinations can be very stressful for the person experiencing them, and if you have musical ear syndrome you might even feel embarrassed to tell anyone what you’re hearing. It can affect people of all ages, with normal hearing, with tinnitus, or with hearing loss.
You’re Not Going Crazy
Many people think that if they’re hearing things, they must be going crazy, or have a psychiatric condition. The hallucinations can be frightening, and at first, you’ll think the music is coming from your neighbor’s house, or the kids playing on the street. When you realize the sounds are in your head, you might think you’re losing your marbles. With musical ear syndrome, this is not the case. Most commonly, those who experience musical hallucinations have hearing loss and have experienced cell damage, either in their ears or in their brain.
What Causes Musical Ear Syndrome?
No one is exactly sure what causes musical ear syndrome, but experts have a few theories. Many scientists believe that the mechanisms of musical ear syndrome are similar to those of tinnitus. When you have hearing loss, certain sounds are no longer audible, but the areas in the brain are still primed and ready to receive sound signals in these frequencies. These cells become hypersensitive, and may begin firing in the absence of any other sounds. A study using EEG scanning discovered that when someone experienced musical ear syndrome, they had brain activation in their auditory centers, as well as in the areas of the brain associated with both music and language production, as if they were actually listening to music! When they stopped hearing the music, the activity in these regions also stopped.
Other causes of musical ear syndrome could be certain medications, such as Zyrtec and Claritin, that might cause these auditory hallucinations. Stress can also make these hallucinations worse, so if you’ve been feeling especially stressed recently, at work or in your personal life, you’re more likely to experience musical ear syndrome.
Treating Musical Ear Syndrome
Because we don’t know the exact mechanism of the auditory hallucinations, there is no single treatment for musical ear syndrome. Some people treat their hallucinations by changing their medications, or taking up meditation to manage stress levels.
One of the most effective treatment methods is to invest in a quality pair of hearing devices. Since musical ear syndrome often goes hand in hand with hearing loss, you need to first treat your hearing loss and make sure you’re hearing clearly. As with tinnitus, musical ear syndrome can be treated very effectively using advanced programs on your hearing device. Known as sound therapy, these programs will play sounds that will cause your tinnitus or musical hallucinations to fade into the background. You can choose between white noise, pink noise, nature sounds, or even your own music, and this will be played in the background so you can go about your day without worrying about your auditory hallucinations.
My Hearing Centers
At My Hearing Centers, we have hearing devices with all the latest programs and settings, and many of our devices have sound therapy programs might be able to help with musical or auditory hallucinations, and allow you to focus on the sounds around you. Have you noticed that your musical ear syndrome disappears when the refrigerator kicks in, or when there’s a noisy fan or dehumidifier in the room? Sound therapy works in the same way, masking the tinnitus or auditory hallucination, and allowing you to easily focus on tasks, enjoy reading, have conversations with your loved ones, and get a good night’s sleep without stressing about all the extra sounds you’re hearing.
Have you experienced changes in your hearing? Visit us today for a hearing test and consultation, and find out what hearing devices can do for you. We’ll help you find the perfect device to match your lifestyle and hearing needs.