What Causes Musical Tinnitus & How To Stop The Concert In Your Ears?
Have you ever heard a song and then later realized that it wasn't playing anywhere but in your mind? I'm not talking about the phenomenon when a specific song gets stuck in your mind and you can't seem to get rid of it, as that happens to everyone from time to time. I'm talking about something much, much different that feels as if you have your very own private band having a concert right there in your ears and it takes some time to realize that the audience consists of nobody but you.
In simple words, this is when you are actually hearing a tune that isn't playing anywhere and you are convinced that it is. If this happens to you frequently, then you might want to check what the reason could be. There is actually a medical condition that could be the cause of those concerts in your ears and it is about time you heard about it, especially if you have been experiencing it for quite a while. The condition that I am referring to is conveniently called musical tinnitus.
If you are now thinking that this is the ringing noise that bothers you after having attended a concert, let me make it clear that those are two very similar and yet rather different conditions. Simply said, that ringing noise is definitely tinnitus and it can be caused by being exposed to loud concert noises, as explained on this page. Musical tinnitus, however, is a bit different, since it doesn't have to happen after concerts and since it's not ringing and piercing noises that you hear, but real and actual music that feels as if it were coming from external sources.
I am sure that you are curious about what causes musical tinnitus, as well as what you can do to stop those concerts in your ears and those are precisely the answers that we are going to try and answer today. Yet, before we proceed to those questions, I believe that a little introduction to the actual condition is necessary, since you need to know exactly what it is before jumping to determining the causes. So, let us start with the very basics.
What Is Musical Tinnitus?
Musical tinnitus, or musical ear syndrome (MES) is a condition due to which people keep hearing music when it is actually not being played. The condition is rarely diagnosed, but it doesn't mean that it is rare per se. Some people might simply get used to it or it might not be that big of a deal, so they just learn how to ignore it. MES basically causes auditory hallucinations during which a person hears melodies that nobody else can hear at that moment, since they aren't coming from any external sources.
There is a lot of talk going around about how and why this condition is actually developed and while that is still a bit of a mystery, it seems that the problem is closely associated to hearing loss. We could definitely accept that premise and it would make it easier for us to explain what happens in people's brains when they are affected by this condition. Let me try and explain this in simple words, so that you can get a better idea about what musical tinnitus actually is.
Basically, your brain is used to hearing all kinds of stuff from the environment. When your hearing gets impaired, this organ isn't quite ready to accept the fact that it cannot hear certain things, which is why it starts trying to fill in those blanks with stuff that it is already acquainted with regarding the world and which live in its memory. That way, your brain can produce a wide variety of noises and in case of MES, it produces melodies.
There is a simple reason why this explanation can be fully accepted. If you think about it closely or do some research, you will find that people with MES never hear songs that they have never heard before, which proves the idea that the brain is drawing things from its memory due to the fact that it is unable to get any external input. I know that all of this might sound a bit scary, but the truth is that this condition can be put under control and it may not cause any other health consequences.
Here's a guide that will help you understand the condition better: https://www.healthline.com/health/musical-ear-syndrome
What Causes It?
As I have already mentioned, the whole mechanism behind MES is not completely understood, meaning that there are still some confusions about why it even exists and what causes it. Yet, scientists have definitely managed to determine at least one cause of this syndrome and I believe I have briefly mentioned it above. In any case, it's definitely worth repeating and making perfectly clear.
To put things simply, musical tinnitus is most likely caused by hearing loss. Researchers believe that the auditory center in your brain can become hypersensitive due to sensory deprivation, i.e. due to impaired hearing. It cannot fathom why it isn't getting any input from the outside and that's why it decides to fill in those blanks, as explained above. It still isn't clear, though, why our brain chooses to fill in the blanks with music instead of some other sounds.
How To Stop It?
If you are suffering from MES, finding out that it happens to other people as well is quite comforting and can help you deal with the problem more successfully or even get used to it. Yet, when you think about it really closely, it can all get pretty annoying from time to time and you would much rather stop those concerts in your ears instead of learn how to get used to the condition. After all, it can happen in the most inconvenient of situations and it can, thus, be pretty distracting and disturbing.
So, in case you have experience with this issue I am sure that you have already gathered some musical tinnitus information and that you have started searching for ways on how to solve this problem. It might sound powerful to tell someone that you can hear music when nobody else can, but this is a medical condition that you definitely shouldn't ignore and that shouldn't be bragged about. Instead, it should be solved and there appear to be a few things you can try in order to stop those uncalled-for concerts, so let's take a quick look at those.
First of all, if you know that your hearing is impaired and that it is actually the cause of your MES, you will have to treat the impairment in order to manage and stop the auditory hallucinations. Make sure to consult a medical professional and start using hearing aids if those turn out to be necessary. This way, you will definitely be able to get rid of those sounds that your brain produces on its own because you'll be able to get external input with the help of the aids.
In addition to treating hearing impairment, or if there's no impairment to treat, there are a few more things you could do in order to stop MES. You could make some lifestyle changes, such as starting to exercise, practice yoga and meditation. Then, you could also try both sound therapy and aroma therapy, since those have proved to have some effect on this syndrome, which can be of huge help.
Sometimes, you could even try listening to music in order to prevent your brain from creating its own. Keep in mind, though, that this is a temporary solution. When searching for permanent ones, you should try some of the above suggestions, as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy that could help you sort of train your brain to pay less attention to those sounds.