Brain muzak - a tinnitus nightmare

Most people enjoy listening to music, but to some, the music never stops. Instead, it becomes a serious nightmare when it turns into a type of tinnitus.

Tinnitus usually is characterized by a constant ringing, buzzing, whistling or other noise in the ear. In some cases, however, the uncomfortable noises may instead be experienced as incessantly repeated songs or melodies. This phenomenon, known as auditory imaging, is a kind of hallucination. It is not known why some tinnitus manifests itself as parts of a melody. The prevailing theory is that the brain organizes the usual tinnitus sounds in patterns like a song or, in other cases, as unrecognizable words.

Auditory imaging is most pronounced at bedtime when the surroundings are the quietest.

As is the case with conventional tinnitus, auditory imaging cannot be totally cured. Often, however, the patient may learn to tackle the problem through treatment and counseling.

Source: One in seven, issue 37, October/November 2003

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