One way your body delivers information to you is through pain response. 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 instantly (if you’re wise) cover your ears or remove yourself from that extremely loud environment.
But for about 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be detected as painfully loud, in spite of their measured decibel level. This condition is known by experts as hyperacusis. This is the medical label 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. Usually sounds in a particular frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who experience it. Quiet noises will frequently sound very loud. And loud noises seem even louder.
nobody’s quite sure what causes hyperacusis, though it is often associated with tinnitus or other hearing problems (and, in some situations, neurological issues). With regards to symptoms, intensity, and treatment, there’s a noticeable degree of individual variability.
What’s a normal hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- After you hear the initial sound, you may have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
- The louder the sound is, the more extreme your response and discomfort will be.
- Everyone else will think a particular sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
Treatments for hyperacusis
When you are dealing with hyperacusis the world can become 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 it’s so crucial to get treatment. There are various treatments available depending on your particular situation and we can help you choose one that’s best for you. The most common options include the following.
One of the most commonly implemented treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. This is technology that can cancel out specified wavelengths. 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 offending sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.
A less state-of-the-art strategy to this general method is earplugs: if all sound is stopped, there’s no chance of a hyperacusis event. It’s undoubtedly a low-tech strategy, and there are some drawbacks. There’s some evidence to suggest that, over the long run, the earplugs can throw your hearing ecosystem even further out of whack and make your hyperacusis worse. If you’re considering using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.
One of the most comprehensive methods of managing hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll try to change the way you respond to specific kinds of sounds by utilizing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. The idea is that you can train yourself to disregard sounds (kind of like with tinnitus). Normally, this strategy has a good rate of success but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.
Less common solutions
There are also some less common approaches for managing hyperacusis, such as medications or ear tubes. Both of these strategies have met with only mixed success, so they aren’t as commonly utilized (it’ll depend on the individual and the specialist).
A big difference can come from treatment
Because hyperacusis has a tendency to vary from person to person, an individual treatment plan can be formulated depending on your symptoms as you encounter them. Successfully treating hyperacusis depends on determining an approach that’s best for you.