Health and Lifestyle

Musical Ear Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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Friedrich Nietzsche was believed to have said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Music is an inherent part of our society. Music can lift our spirits, calm our mood, or mark joyous occasions. For most of us, hearing music is a wonderful experience.

But what happens if you can hear music that isn’t actually playing? If you have ever experienced this, you may have Musical Ear Syndrome.

What is Musical Ear Syndrome?

Musical Ear Syndrome (MES) is a condition that can affect people who have hearing loss. For those that experience MES, they are able to hear music when none is playing.

Hearing loss can cause people to hear sounds that are not present. Commonly reported sounds include buzzing, ringing or hissing. The condition, known as tinnitus, is estimated to affect over 50 million Americans.

Tinnitus produces what is known as a “phantom” auditory perception. Put simply, the sounds that people are hearing are not being produced outside of the body. In rare cases, some people report hearing music.

What Causes Musical Ear Syndrome?

The suspected cause of MES is “by hypersensitivity in the auditory cortex associated with sensory deprivation.” This sensory deprivation is a result of hearing loss. This is due to how hearing loss can impact auditory stimulation.

Effectively, our brains miss certain auditory stimulation. As a result, the brain works to fill in the blanks with auditory hallucinations. Musical ear syndrome or tinnitus are both examples of auditory hallucinations.

Anyone can experience musical ear syndrome. It is more frequently reported in elderly people with a hearing impairment. Research also shows that women are more likely to experience MES. Certain conditions are believed to increase the changes of MES, including:

What are the Symptoms of Musical Ear Syndrome?

Different people can experience different symptoms of musical ear syndrome. People often report hearing melodies or short bits of music. Music sounds heard include: :

Musical Ear Syndrome Treatment Options

Treatment options for Musical Ear Syndrome depend on the underlying cause. Medication may help minimize the symptoms. However, the evidence supporting prescription medication to treat MES is limited.

Coping mechanisms for tinnitus can help treat MES. These can include: 

Where MES is the result of a hearing loss, treating the hearing loss can lessen the symptoms. In rare cases, MES could be a symptom of a more serious underlying health condition. If you have been experiencing Musical Ear Syndrome, we advise that you speak to your general health practitioner.

Although rate, in some rare circumstances MES could be a symptom of a more serious underlying health condition. If you have been experiencing MES, we advise speaking to your general health practitioner.

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