Pain is your body’s means of supplying information. It’s an effective method though not a really pleasant one. When that megaphone you’re standing next to goes too loud, the pain allows you to know that severe ear damage is occurring and you instantly (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, in spite of their measured decibel level. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. This is the medical term 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 distinct frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who suffer from it. Typically, quiet noises sound loud. And loud noises sound even louder.
Hyperacusis is commonly linked to tinnitus, hearing trouble, and even neurological issues, though no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a noticeable degree of personal variability when it comes to the symptoms, severity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a typical hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most situations, will look and feel::
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
- Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
- You may notice pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing may last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
- Everybody else will think a certain sound is quiet but it will sound very loud to you.
Treatments for hyperacusis
When you have hyperacusis the world can become a minefield, especially when your ears are extremely sensitive to a wide range of frequencies. Your hearing could be bombarded and you could be left with a terrible headache and ringing ears whenever you go out.
That’s why it’s so crucial to get treatment. There are various treatments available depending on your specific 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 popular treatments for hyperacusis. This is technology that can cancel out specific frequencies. These devices, then, can selectively hide those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever reach your ear. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.
A less state-of-the-art approach to this basic method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you’re unable to hear… well, anything. There are undoubtedly some drawbacks to this low tech method. Your overall hearing problems, including hyperacusis, could worsen by using this strategy, according to some evidence. If you’re considering using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.
One of the most thorough approaches to treating hyperacusis is called ear retraining therapy. You’ll attempt to change how you react to specific types of sounds by using physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a mix of devices. The idea is that you can train yourself to dismiss sounds (kind of like with tinnitus). Generally, this approach has a good rate of success but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.
Approaches that are less prevalent
There are also some less common methods for managing hyperacusis, such as medications or ear tubes. These approaches are less commonly used, depending on the specialist and the individual, because they have met with mixed results.
A huge difference can come from treatment
Because hyperacusis will differ from person to person, a unique treatment plan can be developed depending on your symptoms as you experience them. There’s no single best approach to managing hyperacusis, it really depends on choosing the right treatment for you.