Audio Hallucinations

What You Should Know about Audio Hallucinations

Hearing voices is often associated with mental disorders of all types, since approximately three fourths of all people diagnosed with schizophrenia experience audio hallucinations.  Two other conditions, bipolar and posttraumatic stress syndrome, also feature these hallucinations as symptoms.  It may surprise many to know that auditory sensations such as these also occur to people with no mental illness whatsoever.

What are hallucinations?

Called false perceptions, hallucinations are sensory abnormalities.  In simple terms, an individual sees, hears or feels something that is clearly not there. Some hallucinations are extremely common and are shared by virtually everyone.  Hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations occur in the gray area of waking up or falling asleep, but are not always perceived by the individual.  While those who do not experience this condition may have a difficult time understanding how this could happen, the noises are very real for those who do have the hallucinations.  Visual hallucinations are frequently interpreted as being “seers”; those who are able to “see” spirits and ghostly apparitions.  Auditory perceptions those which are heard; these are not always voices, however; they may be finger snaps, whistles, growls and more.

Common causes of hallucinations

Mental illness of some form is the most common cause of most hallucinations.  Dementia patients are frequently assuaged by different types of false perceptions, as are schizophrenics and those suffering for psychotic depression.   Drugs can also create the hallucinations; people who are afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, for example, can relive experiences as though they were actually happening when their medication is off kilter. Usage of certain illegal drugs can also create hallucinatory sensations; spiders, snakes and insects are common visual anomalies.   High fevers can cause temporary perception issues of tactile, visual and auditory natures, especially in young children and the elderly.

Types of hallucinations

Hallucinations are not always seen.  People can be affected by a number of different types of hallucinations, including visual, auditory, tactile, gustatory, olfactory, equilibrioceptive, nociceptive, propioceptive, thermoceptive and chronoceptive.  The most commonly experienced of these are visual, tactile and especially audio hallucinations.

Auditory perceptions

Many psychiatric disorders are marked by the affliction of auditory perceptions.  Hearing voices and noises occurs spontaneously and irregularly.  In most cases, the act of hearing these auditory perceptions is not the worse part of the condition.  It is more on what the noises can cause the individual who is hearing them to do.   Sadly, these individuals have little recourse on coping with the condition, as there are few people who sympathize or even understand what they are experiencing.  In fact, while many people who hear voices can function otherwise normally in society, they are often ostracized when the truth about their condition is discovered, even to the point of being fired from their job.

As noted, not all people who have audio hallucinations have mental disorders.  A wide range of brain disorders can also create the sensation; brain lesions, viral encephalitis, temporal lobe epilepsy, dementia, cerebral tumors and neuroinfections are perfect examples.  Between 10% and 40% of people that have experienced these cranial conditions report having auditory perceptions.



The first course of treatment for auditory perceptions is to help the individual learn to cope with their affliction.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is also helpful to learn about triggers that bring on episodes.  Various medications are successfully used in many patients.  Combinations of medication and therapy have proven to be highly effective in lessening and even eliminating episodes.

Hearing voices and other noises is an unwanted and undesirable condition that affects millions of people.  Since the condition is not always due to a form of mental illness, it is important to know about the other causes of audio hallucinations in order to accurately diagnose the underlying cause so that proper treatment can be administered.