One way your body offers information to you is through pain response. It’s not a very fun method but it can be effective. When that megaphone you’re standing next to goes too loud, the pain allows you to know that severe ear damage is happening and you immediately (if you’re wise) cover your ears or remove yourself from that rather loud environment.
But for about 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be perceived as painfully loud, despite their measured decibel level. This condition is known by experts 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.
Increased sensitivity to sound
Hyperacusis is a hypersensitivity to sound. Usually sounds in a distinct frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for people who suffer from it. Normally, quiet noises sound loud. And loud noises seem even louder.
nobody’s quite sure what causes hyperacusis, although it is often linked to tinnitus or other hearing problems (and, in some cases, neurological concerns). When it comes to symptoms, intensity, and treatment, there’s a significant degree of personal variability.
What type of response is normal for hyperacusis?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- You will hear a specific sound, a sound that everyone else perceives as quiet, and that sound will sound exceptionally loud to you.
- You might notice pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing may last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
- The louder the sound is, the more extreme your response and discomfort will be.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When you have hyperacusis the world can become a minefield, especially when your ears are overly sensitive to a wide assortment of frequencies. You never know when a pleasant night out will suddenly turn into an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and a three-day migraine.
That’s why it’s so crucial 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 called 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, have the ability to selectively hide those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever get to your ear. You can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear the triggering sound!
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 disadvantages. 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 managing hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll try to change the way you react to specific types of sounds by employing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. This strategy depends on your commitment but generally has a positive success rate.
Less prevalent strategies
There are also some less prevalent strategies for managing hyperacusis, such as medications or ear tubes. These strategies are less commonly utilized, depending on the specialist and the individual, because they have met with mixed results.
Treatment makes a huge difference
Because hyperacusis will vary from person to person, a specialized treatment plan can be developed depending on your symptoms as you experience them. Successfully treating hyperacusis depends on determining a strategy that’s best for you.