One way your body offers information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective strategy though not a very pleasant one. When that megaphone you’re standing next to goes too loud, the pain allows you to know that significant ear damage is occurring and you instantly (if you’re wise) cover your ears or remove yourself from that extremely loud environment.
But for about 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be detected as painfully loud, in spite of their measured decibel level. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. This is the medical name for excessively sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.
Heightened sound sensitivity
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. Most of the time sounds within a distinct frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who suffer from it. Quiet noises will frequently sound extremely loud. And loud noises sound even louder.
Hyperacusis is often associated with tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological difficulties, although no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a significant degree of individual variability when it comes to the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a typical hyperacusis response?
In most cases, hyperacusis will look and feel something like this:
- The louder the sound is, the more powerful your response and pain will be.
- You will hear a certain sound, a sound that everyone else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem exceptionally loud to you.
- You might also experience dizziness and problems keeping your balance.
- After you hear the initial sound, you may have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide assortment of frequencies, the world can seem like a minefield. Your hearing could be assaulted and you could be left with a horrible headache and ringing ears anytime you go out.
That’s why it’s so essential to get treatment. There are various treatments available depending on your specific situation and we can help you pick one that’s best for you. The most common options include the following.
A device called a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. While it may sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), actually though, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out certain wavelengths of sounds. These devices, then, are able to selectively mask those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever reach your ear. You can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear the offending sound!
Earplugs are a less state-of-the-art take on the same general approach: if all sound is blocked, there’s no chance of a hyperacusis episode. There are undoubtedly some disadvantages to this low tech method. Your general hearing problems, including hyperacusis, may worsen by using this strategy, according to some evidence. If you’re considering using earplugs, give us a call for a consultation.
An strategy, known as ear retraining therapy, is one of the most thorough hyperacusis treatments. You’ll try to change the way you react to specific types of sounds by employing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a mix of devices. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. This strategy depends on your commitment but usually has a positive success rate.
Approaches that are less common
Less prevalent methods, like ear tubes or medication, are also used to manage hyperacusis. These strategies are less commonly utilized, depending on the specialist and the person, because they have met with mixed success.
Treatment makes a big difference
Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which differ from person to person, a unique treatment plan can be created. Effectively treating hyperacusis depends on finding an approach that’s best for you.