One way your body delivers information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective method though not a very pleasant one. When your ears begin to feel the pain of a very loud megaphone near you, you know damage is taking place and you can take steps to move further away or at least cover your ears.
But, despite their marginal volume, 8-10% of individuals will feel pain from quiet sounds too. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. It’s a medical term 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. The majority of people with hyperacusis have episodes that are activated by a particular set of sounds (usually sounds within a frequency range). Quiet noises will frequently sound very loud. And loud noises seem even louder.
No one’s really certain what causes hyperacusis, though it is frequently linked to tinnitus or other hearing problems (and, in some situations, neurological issues). There’s a noticeable degree of individual variability when it comes to the symptoms, severity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a typical hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- The louder the sound is, the more extreme your response and pain will be.
- After you hear the initial sound, you could have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- You will notice a particular sound, a sound that everyone else perceives as quiet, and that sound will sound exceptionally loud to you.
- You might also experience dizziness and difficulty keeping your balance.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When you have hyperacusis the world can be a minefield, particularly when your ears are extremely sensitive to a wide range of frequencies. Your hearing could be bombarded and you could be left with an awful headache and ringing ears whenever you go out.
That’s why treatment is so crucial. You’ll want to come in and talk with us about which treatments will be your best option (this all tends to be quite variable). Here are some of the most common options:
One of the most commonly used treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. While it might sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), in reality, 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. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.
Earplugs are a less sophisticated play on the same general approach: you can’t have a hyperacusis event if you can’t hear… well, anything. There are certainly some drawbacks to this low tech strategy. Your general hearing issues, including hyperacusis, could get worse by using this strategy, according to some evidence. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, call us for a consultation.
One of the most comprehensive approaches to managing hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll attempt to change the way you react to certain kinds of sounds by employing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. Training yourself to disregard sounds is the basic idea. Normally, this strategy has a good rate of success but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.
Less prevalent strategies
There are also some less prevalent methods for treating hyperacusis, like medications or ear tubes. These approaches are less commonly utilized, depending on the specialist and the individual, because they have delivered mixed success.
A huge difference can come from treatment
Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which differ from person to person, an individual treatment plan can be created. Successfully treating hyperacusis depends on finding an approach that’s best for you.