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earworm torment (a.k.a. auditory imagery loop)

Discussion in 'Neurological/Neuro-sensory' started by coomacats, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. coomacats

    coomacats

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    Hi,

    Wondering if my experience with earworms (song stuck in the brain on enfless replay) is yet another new CFS symptom. Anyone else out there with it? There is a discussion of the kind of heavy duty earworms or auditory image loops that I'm talking about at Broken Record Syndrome part 1.

    I think I've always had these earworms and either enjoyed being able to imagine whole songs or at least tolerated their visitations. But it's only been in the past three or four weeks that I've noticed it being the same song enduring all throughout the day and on into the next and even the week beyond, popping up again the moment I regained consciousness in the morning.

    Added to that, I've had several sessions, each of several hours duration, which I can only describe as "torture by earworm", where the apparent noise level, intrusiveness and mental pressure (for want of a better word) has reached the subjective level of a bad migraine. A bit like what Deanna Troi had in that Star Trek episode.

    For one session, after trying to meditate through it unsuccessfully, I finally broke the worst of the sensation by taking my migraine medication and sleeping it off (to awake to a milder version of the earworm) and for the next one, on a hunch, I tried magnesium (a pinch of epsom salts in water) and it took the nasty quality of the earworm away, but again it left the song playing ad infinitum.

    I'm in the middle of yet another herpes reactivation this week, which doesn't help, but it's never had this effect before.

    Now I'm really wondering whether it's worth it listening to any contemporary music at all. I've had to severely restrict music anyway for about a decade due to it being so energy sapping for me (much more so than either reading or tv shows/movies). But the problem is, music is everywhere on the computer too, I would have to give up all pc usage to expunge it completely. It was only a short piece of music in an episode of Lie to Me that started off the first major earworm problem, after all.

    Anyway, I've spent most of today looking for ways to better deal with this. I found a cheap windchime program that rather prettily covers up the earworm when it's at the ordinary background level so I don't notice it's there, just to give myself a break from having to expend energy in ignoring and/or accepting its presence in my head all the time. And I'm considering allowing back a little bit more music into my day--but only some really grand stuff like, for example, the Bach 'cello suites or some Mozart quartets--stuff that (hopefully) is unlikely to turn on me and turn into an earwrom. (That's on the theory that maybe as well as having a dodgy brain I might also be chronically music deprived.) Apart from surfing around for information on earworms, that's about as far as I've got in taking back control of my earworm situation. Any comments?
     
    Merry likes this.
  2. roxie60

    roxie60 Senior Member

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    mine is just torture by 'metallic hiss' 24hrs a day. All drs say is they can't do anyting about tinitus. I did find a method online that dulls it but only for a minute, it is a strange thumping on base of skull and for some reason that lessens the 'ringing' for a bit. Not sure if that method would help in this case. There are people that reported using this method actually reduced or even elliminated the 'tinitus', sadly I'm not one of them. If I can find the link I will post it.

    http://www.articlecity.com/articles/health/article_12263.shtml

    This is not the original link I found but it describes the method in the last paragraphs and I tired it again and it works for a few seconds the noise is dulled. Hope it helps, it sounds weird but how many of us have resorted to 'weird' for relief. It is not medicine/supp solution. Hope it works. Still looking for original article, more of a description w/ pics if I recall.
     
  3. roxie60

    roxie60 Senior Member

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    I think this is the original link, at least I remember the pic of the ear. Hope it helps someone with tinitus. The ear rining is just another torture like the muscles that rarely calm down. http://health.learninginfo.org/tinnitus.htm

    There is a how to video on this link, it is simple if you have strength in your arms and hands to perform the method.
     
    coomacats likes this.
  4. coomacats

    coomacats

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    Hi roxie60

    Like you, I hope your link helps someone. However, what I am describing is not like tinnitus. I also have tinnitus, and that sounds like a "real" noise, whether it comes from a problem in the auditory nerve/apparatus or the brain, it mimics a real noise somehow. My tinnitus is made of several noises combines, slightly different in either ear. It has aspects of hissing and another more or less ringing tone as well. It arrived suddenly in the last flu-like attack before I got my CFS diagnosis in 1991 and has never left for a moment.

    Whatever, the auditory loop feels quite different. It has the same dream-like quality as anything else you imagine does--visual objects, voices, whatever. No doubt a different area of the brain is involved than for tinnitus. However, there is a real compulsion to imagine the songs, you cannot stop them being there--that's where the struggle and discomfort arises. And that I guess is where the loops and tinnitus are similar.

    The way you describe your tinnitus as disturbing reminds me that for the first few years I had tinnitus I was quite disturbed by that too. I really felt I had to mourn my lost sense of silence and get used to hearing everything "around" the constant wall of hum/hiss. However, I did eventually learn to ignore it more or less. On the days I have migraine and/or bad brain fog the tinnitus probably sometimes adds some extra heaviness to the feeling (it seems louder on such days), but it's not disturbing now as it was for the first few years, even though the sound itself hasn't faded. In fact, when the earworm got really bad yesterday I found myself trying to tune IN to the tinnitus to better drown it out!

    I don't know how long you've had your tinnitus, but I do hope there might still be a chance yours could fade in that subjective way too.
     
  5. Googsta

    Googsta Doing Well

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    I HEAR YA - LOL :whistle::whistle::whistle:

    I was diagnosed with ME/CFS 11 years ago.
    But this problem began 5 years ago during a severe bout of depression & stress which was unrelated to my ME (I was quite active, but major family problems & trauma).
    I'd had ear worms mildly throughout my life but this was preventing me sleeping more than two hours a night & I was hyper-anxious. I now believe this was due to exitotoxicity as I developed some serious Neurological symptoms at the same time e.g facial numbness, burning, tingling.

    Commercial jingles were the worst & I had to avoid them around bedtime, my husband was even banned from singing at night :p
    All the doctors I saw just gave me a weird look like I was nuts.

    It was diagnosed as a type of OCD. I was on meds for four years, Luvox high dose which helped but it was still an issue, especially if I tried to reduce my dose.
    From my research it seems alot of people with this problem have suffered head injuries (I've had concussion alot growing up & I have white matter lesions) & do not usually have other psychological issues such as depression or other OCD symptoms.

    I tapered off the Luvox several months ago so it was back in all it's glory.
    I started experimenting with supplements which have almost completely eliminated the problem, but I can't say for certain which ones.
    I suspect it was one or all of these three - magnesium, fish oils, NAC.

    It happens more when I am anxious or excited about something or wired but tired. I am just starting the Simplified Methylation Protocol & will report back if that helps ;) .

    Unfortunately it is yet another brain symptom that the psychiatric community has claimed territory on. Too many people are diagnosed with OCD IMO, especially kids. There was a recent program about this on 20/20 which is worth watching.
    I forget which hospital it was in the U.S where they were studying OCD in kids, but they have found abnormalities in their MRI's.

    Some people do need behavioural therapy (even though it is a physical manifestation). IMO dietary deficiencies are grossly underestimated & should be addressed before diagnosis is made & people put on psych meds.

    P.s if anyone is literally 'hearing' music that is not there they should have a hearing test as it is a symptom of progressive deafness, usually in one ear. My MIL used to search about her house looking for the radio before she was diagnosed with partial deafness in one ear.
     
  6. Bunchy

    Bunchy

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    I have episodes of sudden sensory neural hearing loss especially when I am really exhausted.

    It is unnerving but since I discovered what it was (23 years after I first experienced it...LOL), I know it is warning me I need to rest.

    Auditory hallucinations, problems etc are not uncommon in CFS/ME.

    Love Esperanza x
     
  7. coomacats

    coomacats

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    Hi Googsta and Esperanza, thanks for replying!

    Googsta: you describe almost exactly what I've been having, except in my case I always have the background music, it's only the "torture" that came on as a new symptom. (Using the word "torture" to get across the seriously severe inability to ignore said symptom, not to be a mere drama queen ;)) Would be interested to hear about your methylation protocol.
    Interesting also to see you included magnesium in your list of therapies, which worked for me. I'm profoundly thankful to report I've had no further attacks! I've been continuing to sip on the Mg at the slightest sign of any other deficiency symptoms, though (eg tense muscles or that other metal tension/wired thingy that also seems to be Mg related sometimes). If I had a lot of attacks I would definitely consider the other more serious medications you used, but so far so good on the Mg :)

    Esperanza
    : your hearing loss could be part of the migraine pattern associated with CFS in a lot of cases. I don't get that but I do get temporary one-sided blindness sometimes as part of the migraine aura, with or without the actual pain of migraine. In my case migraine/visual disturbances also a sign for immediate rest.

    Wishing you both well,
    coomacats
     
  8. Googsta

    Googsta Doing Well

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    Agreed, torture is no exaggeration ;).

    The only thing with the Methylation Protocol is the symptom gets pretty intense at first so you really need to be able to cope with it. I have a few earworms floating around at the moment but I'm sleeping well & feeling calm despite it (so far lol).
    I'll report back when I'm further along with it.

    Glad you are finding some relief on the Mg :)
     
  9. coomacats

    coomacats

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    OK, good luck. I've just signed up for the Gupta program myself :thumbsup:
     
  10. justy

    justy Senior Member

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    Hi Coomacats, what strange creatures we are! i have had a similar problem at times, but luckily not for very long periods. Where mine differs is that it is mainly happening at night while i sleep. I have a song stuck in my head and it plays on an endless loop ALL NIGHT LONG. For some reason unknown to myself my brain particularly likes to hook onto 'comedy songs' such as anyhting by Tim Minchin or 'The Flight Of The Conchords' once i get one it will wake me up over and over again and still be there in the morning fr a while. I get the same one stuck for ages before it changes tracks.

    When the guy from the conchords won the oscar for the muppet song and my kids kept playing it on you tube was a nightmare - all night long 'am i man or am i a muppet'
    Luckily its been all quiet for a while now. But the low grade tinnitus sticks around.

    There is a morning radio show in the UK where they have a section called 'ear worm de jour' and people mail in with the ear worm they woke up with - and then he plays one (which is supposed to make it stop) for me hearing a song starts it up.
    I suppose as Googsta says this could be some sort of neurological damage. I do find it quite hard to block out most unecessary background stimuli, so this could be a part of that whole thing (whatever it is)
    take care, Justy.
     
  11. coomacats

    coomacats

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    Hi Justy--Man or Muppet's a cute song! I hadn't heard it from here (in my anchorite's cave). I too have the phenomenon of the same song going round last thing at night and first thing in the morning (etcetera, for many days in a row sometimes). However, perhaps due to taking sleeping meds, I've never been woken by it --really wouldn't care to be either!
    In my experience the more you listen to the offending song the longer it will stay, and even if you get rid of one song with another, the first one is liable to surface again after a while. Once when spaced out with a migraine I have even noticed two songs going at once, but only once (thank goodness).
    You might be right about it being a defect in focussing/refocussing ability. Perhaps things will improve when I'm further down the road with my meditation practice.
    ~ All the best, coomacats
     
  12. GypsyA

    GypsyA

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    This happens to me more and more, and I also have tinnitus, as well. For me, a migraine eventually shuts it down...I get so much pain that all I can do is give in to everything and just be, relaxing and releasing my entire being and being okay with not making it through (because many times my migraines are so intense I feel like I might not make it). What happens after the migraines, however is blissful...I am released of the ongoing repeating song (but for me it's OCD kind of thing...not just songs, but phrases or thoughts repeating over and over in my head, in the background most of the time, but when I become aware of the repeat and can't seem to stop it that's when it feels like torture).

    This may be too much info, but orgasm also gives me relief from the repetitive songs/words (but not the tinnitus) and many times will help reduce a migraine also.

    *hugs* and I hope you find some peace and quiet sometime very soon.

    XOXOXO
     
  13. svetoslav80

    svetoslav80 Senior Member

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    I have this too, but in a light form. On its worst a song can stuck in my head for about 2-3 days. It's just that since I'm sick with chronic fatigue, everything is more of a pain than before, including this. That's why I don't play guitar anymore, neither do I listen to music. Must be bad to have this for weeks or even months.
     
  14. Little Bluestem

    Little Bluestem Senescent on the Illinois prairie, USA

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    Most computers can be muted. Check your volume control.
     
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  15. coomacats

    coomacats

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    Hi GypsyA, svetoslav80 and Little Bluestem
    I'm happy to report I haven't had another serious bout of ear worm. Looking back, it may have been the meditation itself that caused the two big attacks, as it was the only thing I was doing differently around that time. Either I wasn't doing the meditation right, or the meditation itself somehow uses up (or overproduces?) something important in my brain, a neurotransmitter or whatever. Anyway, I only meditate for small intervals now, and less often - it seems to suit me better that way. I think my brain in general has calmed down after I started supplementing with iodine this year, too. I don't seem to be as easily stimulated or upset by noise (such as neighbours playing music) since the iodine, although concentration (especially on more than one thing at a time) is still a problem. May we all have better health in 2014!
     
    Little Bluestem likes this.

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