Pain is your body’s method of delivering information. It’s not a very enjoyable approach but it can be beneficial. 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 rather loud environment.
But, in spite of their marginal volume, 8-10% of individuals will feel pain from low volume sounds too. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. It’s a medical term 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. Usually sounds within a distinct frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who experience it. Quiet noises will frequently sound really loud. And loud noises sound even louder.
nobody’s quite sure what causes hyperacusis, although it is frequently associated with tinnitus or other hearing problems (and, in some instances, neurological issues). When it comes to symptoms, intensity, and treatment, there’s a significant degree of personal variability.
What’s a normal hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most situations, will look and feel::
- After you hear the initial sound, you could experience pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- You may also have dizziness and problems keeping your balance.
- Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
- Everyone else will think a certain sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you sensitive to a wide range of frequencies, the world can seem like a minefield. You never know when a lovely night out will suddenly turn into an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and an intense migraine.
That’s why treatment is so essential. 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 called a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. While it might sound ideal for Halloween (sorry), actually though, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out select wavelengths of sounds. So those offensive frequencies can be eliminated before they make it to your ears. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.
Earplugs are a less sophisticated play on the same general approach: you can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you’re unable to hear… well, anything. There are undoubtedly some drawbacks to this low tech method. There’s some research that suggests 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, contact us for a consultation.
One of the most thorough methods of treating hyperacusis is called ear retraining therapy. You’ll attempt to change how you respond to certain kinds of sounds by utilizing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. The concept is that you can train yourself to disregard sounds (kind of like with tinnitus). This process depends on your commitment but generally has a positive rate of success.
Less prevalent methods
There are also some less common methods for treating hyperacusis, including medications or ear tubes. Both of these strategies have met with only mixed results, so they aren’t as commonly utilized (it’ll depend on the person and the specialist).
A big difference can come from treatment
Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which vary from person to person, a unique treatment plan can be created. Successfully treating hyperacusis depends on determining an approach that’s best for you.