Imagine music playing all the time inside of your hearing apparatus (your ears) that never turns off. It’s called Musical Tinnitus. Read on how we helped more than one person with this hearing impairment!
We met Ms. Natalie in our office with her daughter. Natalie is 95 years young and reminded me of the lady in the movie Titanic. She aged peacefully, and was quiet and reserved. Natalie has a severe hearing loss and we successfully fit her with a great set of hearing instruments on her ears. She began to talk and open up a lot more with her vastly improved hearing.
In the 1930’s and 40’s she was a fun loving twenty something. She danced and listened to all the popular music that played. Her hearing loss began later in life, and at the behest of a loving family, they brought her to us to get help. She also found a friend or two at our office. Natalie’s eyes glistened with her new found hearing.
One day, during a follow-up appointment, I showed the daughter some features that her Mom’s hearing aids have. The daughter asked, “What does that do?” I replied, “That is a sound the instrument plays to help people with Tinnitus. The daughter asked, “You mean noises in the ears?” And I said “Yes, it can be any kind of sound.”
Natalie perked up and said, “I have that.” I was somewhat puzzled because our Hearing Questionnaire asks that question, but it must have been missed. Calmly, I asked, “What kind of sound do you have (inside your head/ears)?” “Oh, it’s music,” she answered just as calmly.
This was the first time I had met anyone with this occurrence, so I investigated further. “What kind of music do you hear Natalie?” as her daughter looked on. Like all is well and normal she says, “It’s got to be Love, by Roy Fox Orchestra.” Natalie was wearing her hearing aids at this time. I asked, “how often do you hear the music?” Calm as cats in summer, she said, “All the time.” I asked, “Would you like me to help it go away?” Like guarding a bone she said, “No, no, I really love it, its my favorite song.”
In later articles I will describe how hearing loss can produce vivid sounds from memories that are linked to our powerful emotions at the time, such as your favorite music from your twenties.