General Warnings

List Of Drugs That Cause Musical Ear Syndrome

Musical Ear Syndrome (MES) is a condition characterized by hearing phantom sounds of music or singing, even when there is no external source of sound. MES is not a form of tinnitus, as it is not typically associated with a ringing or buzzing sensation. Instead, people with MES often describe hearing songs, instrumental music, or even entire orchestras playing in their heads.

The sounds can be heard faintly or loudly, and they can be distracting, disturbing, or even enjoyable. MES is most common in older adults with hearing loss, but it can occur in people of all ages and with all levels of hearing ability. The exact cause of MES is unknown, but it is thought to be related to changes in the brain that occur as a result of hearing loss.

The prevalence of Musical Ear Syndrome (MES) is not well established, and there is limited research on its prevalence in the general population. However, it is believed to be a relatively common condition, particularly among older individuals who may experience hearing loss or other auditory issues. Some estimates suggest that up to 10% of people with hearing loss experience MES, but further research is needed to confirm this. Additionally, MES may be underreported or misdiagnosed, as individuals may be reluctant to discuss auditory hallucinations or may attribute them to other causes.

List Of Drugs That Cause Musical Ear Syndrome

There are several drugs that have been linked to Musical Ear Syndrome (MES) they include:


There are reports of antidepressants causing Musical Ear Syndrome (MES), but it appears to be a rare side effect. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been implicated in some cases of MES, particularly in patients who have also experienced tinnitus or hearing loss. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) have also been reported to cause MES in some patients. Other antidepressants, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and atypical antidepressants, have not been extensively studied in relation to MES, but there have been some isolated case reports of these drugs causing auditory hallucinations or other auditory disturbances.

Antipsychotic Medications

There is limited research on the association between antipsychotic medications and Musical Ear Syndrome (MES). However, some case reports have suggested that certain antipsychotics may contribute to the development of MES. For example, a case report published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice described a patient who developed MES while taking olanzapine, an atypical antipsychotic medication commonly used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Another case report published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology described a patient who experienced MES after taking risperidone, another commonly used atypical antipsychotic medication. However, more research is needed to determine the relationship between antipsychotic medications and MES.


Musical Ear Syndrome (MES) has been reported in patients taking anticonvulsants, including carbamazepine, phenytoin, and gabapentin. These drugs are commonly used to treat epilepsy, seizures, and neuropathic pain. However, the exact mechanism by which these drugs cause MES is not well understood. It has been suggested that the drugs may alter the neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to auditory hallucinations and other auditory disturbances. In some cases, reducing the dose of the drug or switching to a different medication may alleviate the symptoms of MES. It is important to talk to a healthcare provider if one experiences any auditory hallucinations or other auditory disturbances while taking anticonvulsants or any other medications.


Benzodiazepines have been reported to cause Musical Ear Syndrome (MES) in some individuals. Specifically, long-term use of benzodiazepines may increase the risk of developing MES. However, more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between benzodiazepines and MES. It’s important to note that not everyone who takes benzodiazepines will experience MES. If you are experiencing any unusual auditory symptoms while taking benzodiazepines, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider. They may recommend adjusting your medication or exploring other treatment options.

It is important to note that not everyone who takes these medications will experience MES, and the condition may have other underlying causes. If you suspect that you or someone you know is experiencing MES, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and management.

How to Manage Drug-Induced Musical Ear Syndrome

There is no specific treatment for drug-induced Musical Ear Syndrome (MES), but some strategies may help manage the symptoms. It is important to talk to a healthcare professional before changing or stopping any medications. The following approaches may be helpful:

1.      Changing or stopping the medication: If the drug is suspected to be the cause of MES, the healthcare professional may consider changing the medication or lowering the dose.

2.      Sound therapy: Playing background noise, such as soft music or white noise, may help reduce the perception of phantom sounds.

3.      Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A type of talk therapy that can help individuals cope with MES by changing their thought patterns and behaviors related to the condition.

4.      Support groups: Joining a support group for individuals with MES can be helpful in managing the emotional impact of the condition.

5.      Stress management: Stress can exacerbate MES symptoms, so practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga may be helpful.

It is important to note that not all individuals with drug-induced MES will experience relief from these strategies, and some may require additional interventions. It is important to work closely with a healthcare professional to develop an individualized treatment plan.

How to Prevent Drug-Induced Musical Ear Syndrome

Since the exact cause of Musical Ear Syndrome (MES) is unknown, there is no specific way to prevent it. However, there are some steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing MES as a side effect of drug use.

One of the most important steps is to be aware of the potential side effects of any medications that you are taking. If you notice any unusual symptoms or changes in your hearing while taking a medication, it is important to talk to your doctor or pharmacist right away. They may be able to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication that is less likely to cause MES.

Additionally, it is important to always follow your doctor’s instructions when taking medications. This includes taking the medication at the prescribed dose and frequency, and not exceeding the recommended duration of treatment.

It is also a good idea to avoid using recreational drugs or alcohol, which can increase the risk of developing MES and other hearing-related disorders. Finally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing good hearing hygiene can help to protect your hearing and reduce the risk of developing MES.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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