One way your body delivers information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective method though not a really enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing near gets too loud, the pain allows you to know that major ear damage is happening and you instantly (if you’re smart) cover your ears or remove yourself from that rather loud environment.
But, in spite of their minimal volume, 8-10% of people will feel pain from quiet sounds too. Hearing specialists refer to this condition 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
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. Usually sounds within a particular frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who suffer from it. Quiet noises will often sound really loud. And noises that are loud seem a lot louder than they are.
Hyperacusis is commonly associated with tinnitus, hearing trouble, and even neurological issues, though no one really knows what actually causes it. When it comes to symptoms, severity, and treatment, there is a noticeable degree of individual variability.
What kind of response is normal for hyperacusis?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- Your response and discomfort will be worse the louder the sound is.
- You will hear a specific sound, a sound that everybody else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem very loud to you.
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
- You may experience pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing could last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide assortment of frequencies, the world can be 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 it’s so essential to get treatment. 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 prevalent options:
A device known as a masking device is one of the most common treatments for hyperacusis. While it might sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), actually though, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out specific wavelengths of sounds. These devices, then, are able to selectively mask those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever get to your ear. You can’t have a hyperacusis episode if you can’t hear the offending sound!
Earplugs are a less state-of-the-art take on the same basic approach: if all sound is blocked, there’s no chance of a hyperacusis event. There are certainly some disadvantages to this low tech approach. Your general hearing issues, including hyperacusis, could worsen by using this strategy, according to some evidence. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, give us a call for a consultation.
One of the most comprehensive approaches to treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll attempt to change the way you react to specific types of sounds by using physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a mix of devices. The concept is that you can train yourself to ignore sounds (kind of like with tinnitus). This strategy depends on your dedication but generally has a positive rate of success.
Methods that are less prevalent
There are also some less common strategies for managing hyperacusis, such as medications or ear tubes. Both of these approaches have met with only varying success, so they aren’t as frequently used (it’ll depend on the individual and the specialist).
Treatment makes a huge difference
Because hyperacusis has a tendency to differ 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.