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Q. Why do I hear music in my head?

Answered by
Dr. Aida Abaz Quka
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Nov 23, 2020

Before you get bored with my lengthy question – the end is ‘I had a stroke’; no one can tell me if this is related. About 5 months ago I started hearing music in my head (I’m almost 70 and this has never happened); it started as just music, not even a particular song but more as if I were writing the music itself; it was in the background – not very loud – just in the background. I take a nap around 3 or 4 every afternoon; this is when the music would play – not at night when I go to bed. As time went on, the music got louder. Then, about a month ago it changed; now it was very loud and overwhelming; it also went from just music to a specific song; the Star Spangled Banner – very loud and perfect pitch; after about a week of that one it went to several songs – Star Spangled Banner, Dixie, Battle Hymm of the Republic, and a couple others; also, it now played constantly;

whenever I went to bed the music would play – morning, afternoon, bedtime; it got to where it was driving me nuts; I had already looked on-line about ‘earworms’ and such; I even told my wife I was going to need to see a doctor it was so constant and loud; and I COULD NOT stop it; Then, I had a stroke. I awoke one morning and my whole right side was useless; I could not coordinate any movement and when I tried to speak it just came out garbled; Of coarse I went to the doctor and I had two tests – the neck thing and a CAT Scan or something; they found nothing; But here’s the thing – THE MUSIC STOPPED ! yup, just like that after months of this it stopped; no one can tell me – is this related? Please …..

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Hello!

Welcome on icliniq!

I read carefully your question and would explain that the music could be related to a temporal lobe dysfunction, probably due to low blood flow in this area. You should know that chronic narrowing of blood vessels in the brain (due to atherosclerosis) can lead to brain dysfunction, with different symptoms depending on the brain region (every brain region has a special function). The final result of blood vessel narrowing is the occlusion, causing the stroke of that area of the brain, leading to loss of the function of that area. And that is when the music stopped. Hope you will find this answer helpful! I remain at your disposal for any further questions whenever you need! Kind regards


The Probable causes:

Atherosclerosis

Investigations to be done:

Brain MRI

a little confusion; is the fact that I already take blood-thinners clear up the problem? why did nothing show up on my CT Scan? is the 'music' thing common with your patients? if the music comes back is that a warning? I only had that one episode; it lasted about an hour and a half and then the next morning with just trouble talking and confusion; NO PERMANENT DAMAGE; any recommendations? anything else you may be able to tell me - thanks

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The fact that you were on blood thinners may explain why the motor deficit disappeared. It seems that the blood thinner has caused the blood clot to dissolve. From the other hand, you should know that the blood thinner does not protect you at 100% from a stroke or blood clot. Otherwise we would live forever, while taking blood thinners and stroke would not exist.

Regarding the brain CT scan, you should know that within 24 hours of brain ischemia (blood clots), it may not reveal any changes. The same happens in cases of small strokes, which are usually not detected by a simple CT scan, especially if performed within the first 24 hours For this reason, I would recommend performing a brain MRI ,which is a more accurate test for small strokes, even in the early hours. Anyway, you should also know that MRI is not usually used in the ER service, because it needs a longer time to be performed (half an hour) compared to the short time needed by the CT scan.

Regarding hearing music, this is really a rare case, but I already have had patients like you. So, it is not extremely rare. The temporal lobe is in charge of our memories, especially memories related to hearing (auditive memory). That is why I thought about it, when considering auditive hallucinations followed by a motor deficit (probably related to a temporary low blood perfusion in this area). Hope you will find this information helpful! If you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask me again! Wishing all the best.

this clears up many questions I had; thank you so much for your time and insight; wishing you all the best also

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Your symptoms could be related to low blood perfusion to the brain or an eye disorder. For this reason, I would first recommend you to perform a Doppler ultrasound of the carotid arteries, in order to examine the blood flow in the carotid and vertebral arteries and investigate for possible narrowing or atherosclerotic plaques. It is also important to closely monitor your blood pressure values during those episodes. Low blood pressure can mimic all this clinical situation. If your Doppler ultrasound shows no significant narrowing and your blood pressure values is normal during these episodes, I would recommend consulting with an ophthalmologist for a physical exam. I remain at your disposal for any further questions whenever you need! Wishing all the best.

the music has come back; just like I explained in my original post to you; I'm scared; not of dying (I wish), but of having the big one and becoming a vegetable; I'm thinking this may be a precursor to something; the reason I'm asking you is because you mentioned that you had other patients with this 'music thing'; any thoughts based on your experience with these other folks?

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Coming to this point, I would recommend performing a brain Angio MRI in order to examine the blood flow to the main carotid arteries and in the intracranial arteries. Another possible test to consider would be a transcranial Doppler ultrasound, which can help examine the blood flow in the main intracranial arteries. Considering the 70% narrowing in your carotid artery, I would recommend discussing with your doctor on the above issues. It is also necessary taking statins, especially if your cholesterol levels are high. In the meantime, I would recommend continue taking blood thinners, which can help prevent possible stroke, and take plenty of water, in order to maintain an adequate blood supply to the brain. Hope you will find this information helpful! Wishing all the best.


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