One way your body provides information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective method though not a very enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing near goes too loud, the pain allows you to know that significant ear damage is happening and you immediately (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, despite their measured decibel level. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. This is the medical term for excessively sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.
Increased sensitivity to sound
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. The majority of individuals with hyperacusis have episodes that are triggered by a specific group of sounds (typically sounds within a frequency range). Quiet noises will often sound very loud. And loud noises sound even louder.
Hyperacusis is often associated with tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological issues, although no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a noticeable degree of individual variability when it comes to the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What type of response is typical 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 very loud to you.
- You may notice pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing may last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
- You might also experience dizziness and trouble keeping your balance.
- Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide variety of frequencies, the world can seem like a minefield. You never know when a lovely night out will suddenly become an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and a three-day migraine.
That’s why treatment is so important. 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 popular options include the following.
A device known as a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. This is a device that can cancel out certain frequencies. So those unpleasant frequencies can be eliminated before they reach your ears. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis attack.
A less state-of-the-art approach to this basic method is earplugs: if all sound is stopped, there’s no possibility of a hyperacusis event. There are certainly some drawbacks to this low tech method. There’s some evidence to suggest that, over time, the earplugs can throw your hearing ecosystem even further off and make your hyperacusis worse. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, call us for a consultation.
One of the most comprehensive methods of treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll try to change how you react to specific kinds of sounds by utilizing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a mix of devices. Training yourself to dismiss sounds is the basic idea. Normally, this strategy has a good success rate but depends heavily on your commitment to the process.
Less prevalent solutions
Less prevalent strategies, like ear tubes or medication, are also used to treat hyperacusis. These strategies are less commonly used, depending on the specialist and the person, because they have delivered mixed results.
Treatment makes a big difference
Because hyperacusis has a tendency to differ from person to person, a specialized treatment plan can be formulated depending on your symptoms as you experience them. There’s no one best approach to managing hyperacusis, it really depends on finding the best treatment for you.