One way your body delivers information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective strategy though not a really enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing next to goes too loud, the pain allows you to know that major ear damage is occurring and you immediately (if you’re smart) cover your ears or remove yourself from that rather loud environment.
But for about 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be detected as painfully loud, despite their measured decibel level. This affliction is referred to by experts as hyperacusis. This is the medical name for overly 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 individuals with hyperacusis have episodes that are triggered by a specific set of sounds (commonly sounds within a frequency range). Typically, quiet noises sound loud. And noises that are loud seem a lot louder than they actually are.
No one’s quite certain what causes hyperacusis, though it is often linked to tinnitus or other hearing problems (and, in some cases, neurological issues). With regards to symptoms, severity, and treatment, there is a significant degree of individual variability.
What kind of response is normal for hyperacusis?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most situations, will look and feel::
- Balance problems and dizziness can also be experienced.
- Everybody else will think a specific sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
- After you hear the initial sound, you could have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- The louder the sound is, the more extreme your response and discomfort will be.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When you have hyperacusis the world can be a minefield, especially when your ears are very sensitive to a wide assortment of frequencies. You never know when a wonderful 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 crucial. There are a variety of treatments available depending on your particular situation and we can help you choose one that’s best for you. Here are some of the most common options:
One of the most frequently implemented treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. This is technology that can cancel out specific wavelengths. So those offensive frequencies can be eliminated before they reach your ears. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis attack.
Earplugs are a less state-of-the-art take on the same basic approach: if all sound is stopped, there’s no possibility of a hyperacusis episode. It’s undoubtedly a low-tech strategy, and there are some drawbacks. Your overall hearing issues, including hyperacusis, may get worse by using this strategy, according to some evidence. Consult us if you’re considering wearing earplugs.
An strategy, known as ear retraining therapy, is one of the most extensive hyperacusis treatments. You’ll use a mix of devices, physical therapy, and emotional counseling to try to change the way you react to certain kinds of sounds. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. This process depends on your commitment but usually has a positive success rate.
Approaches that are less common
There are also some less common methods for treating hyperacusis, such as medications or ear tubes. Both of these strategies have met with only varying results, so they aren’t as commonly utilized (it’ll depend on the person and the specialist).
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. There’s no one best approach to managing hyperacusis, it really depends on finding the right treatment for you.