One way your body offers information to you is through pain response. It’s not a terribly fun approach but it can be beneficial. When that megaphone you’re standing near goes too loud, the pain lets you know that significant ear damage is happening and you instantly (if you’re wise) cover your ears or remove yourself from that extremely loud environment.
But for around 8-10% of individuals, quiet sounds can be perceived as painfully loud, in spite of their measured decibel level. This affliction is referred to by experts as hyperacusis. It’s a fancy name for overly sensitive ears. There’s no cure for hyperacusis, but there are treatments that can help you get a handle on your symptoms.
Heightened sound sensitivity
Hyperacusis is a hypersensitivity to sound. Most of the time sounds in a particular frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who suffer from it. Typically, quiet noises sound loud. And noises that are loud seem a lot louder than they are.
Hyperacusis is frequently linked to tinnitus, hearing trouble, 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, severity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What kind of response is normal for hyperacusis?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most situations, will look and feel::
- You will notice a particular sound, a sound that everybody else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem exceptionally loud to you.
- You may experience pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing may last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
- Your response and discomfort will be worse the louder the sound is.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you sensitive to a wide variety of frequencies, the world can be like a minefield. Your hearing could be assaulted and you could be left with an awful headache and ringing ears whenever you go out.
That’s why treatment is so crucial. There are a variety of 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 known as a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. While it might sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), in reality, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out certain wavelengths of sounds. These devices, then, have the ability to selectively mask those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever get to your ear. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.
A less sophisticated strategy to this general method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear… well, anything. It’s undoubtedly a low-tech approach, and there are some drawbacks. Your overall hearing issues, including hyperacusis, could worsen by using this strategy, according to some evidence. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, give us a call for a consultation.
One of the most thorough approaches to treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll use a mix of devices, physical therapy, and emotional counseling to try to change how you respond to particular kinds of sounds. The idea is that you can train yourself to disregard sounds (kind of like with tinnitus). This process depends on your dedication but usually has a positive success rate.
Less common approaches
There are also some less common approaches for treating hyperacusis, including medications or ear tubes. Both of these approaches have met with only mixed success, so they aren’t as frequently utilized (it’ll depend on the person and the specialist).
A huge difference can come from treatment
Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which differ from person to person, an individual treatment plan can be developed. There’s no one best approach to treating hyperacusis, it really depends on finding the best treatment for you.