Pain is your body’s way of supplying information. It’s an effective strategy though not a very enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing next to goes too loud, the pain lets you know that major ear damage is happening and you immediately (if you’re smart) cover your ears or remove yourself from that rather loud environment.
But for about 8-10% of individuals, quiet sounds can be perceived as painfully loud, in spite of their measured decibel level. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction 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 trigger episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who experience it. Quiet noises will often sound really loud. And noises that are loud sound a lot louder than they actually are.
Hyperacusis is frequently connected with tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological difficulties, though no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a noticeable degree of personal variability when it comes to the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a typical hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
- Balance problems and dizziness can also be experienced.
- After you hear the initial sound, you may have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- You will hear a specific sound, a sound that everyone else perceives as quiet, and that sound will sound really loud to you.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide assortment of frequencies, the world can seem like a minefield. You never know when a wonderful 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 crucial. There are various treatments available depending on your particular situation and we can help you pick one that’s best for you. The most popular options include the following.
One of the most frequently deployed treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. This is technology that can cancel out specified wavelengths. So those offending frequencies can be eliminated before they get to your ears. If you can’t hear the offending sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis attack.
Earplugs are a less state-of-the-art take on the same basic approach: you can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you’re unable to hear… well, anything. There are definitely some disadvantages to this low tech approach. Your overall hearing problems, including hyperacusis, could get worse by using this approach, according to some evidence. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.
An approach, called ear retraining therapy, is one of the most comprehensive hyperacusis treatments. You’ll try to change the way you respond to specific kinds of sounds by utilizing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a mix of devices. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. Generally, this strategy has a good success rate but depends heavily on your commitment to the process.
Less prevalent strategies
There are also some less common strategies for treating hyperacusis, including medications or ear tubes. 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
Because hyperacusis tends to vary from person to person, a unique treatment plan can be formulated depending on your symptoms as you encounter them. Effectively treating hyperacusis depends on finding a strategy that’s best for you.