One way your body delivers information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective strategy though not a really enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing near gets too loud, the pain lets you know that severe ear damage is happening and you immediately (if you’re smart) cover your ears or remove yourself from that extremely loud environment.
But, despite their minimal volume, 8-10% of individuals will feel pain from quiet sounds too. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. This is the medical label for excessively sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.
Heightened sound sensitivity
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. Most of the time sounds in a particular frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who suffer from it. Typically, quiet noises sound loud. And noises that are loud seem a lot louder than they are.
Hyperacusis is often associated with tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological difficulties, although no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a significant degree of individual variability when it comes to the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a typical hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
- You will hear a certain sound, a sound that everybody else perceives as quiet, and that sound will sound exceptionally loud to you.
- You may experience pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing may last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
- Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide variety 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 crucial to get treatment. There are a variety of treatments available depending on your specific situation and we can help you pick one that’s best for you. Here are some of the most common options:
A device known as a masking device is one of the most common treatments for hyperacusis. While it might sound ideal for Halloween (sorry), in reality, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out certain wavelengths of sounds. These devices, then, can 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 attack.
A less sophisticated approach to this general method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear… well, anything. It’s certainly a low-tech strategy, and there are some disadvantages. Your overall hearing issues, including hyperacusis, may worsen by using this strategy, according to some evidence. Consult us if you’re considering wearing earplugs.
One of the most in-depth approaches to treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll use a mix of devices, physical therapy, and emotional therapy to try to change the way you react to certain types of sounds. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. Generally, this approach has a good rate of success but depends a great deal on your commitment to the process.
Strategies that are less prevalent
Less prevalent methods, like ear tubes or medication, are also used to treat hyperacusis. Both of these approaches have met with only varying success, so they aren’t as commonly utilized (it’ll depend on the individual and the specialist).
Treatment makes a huge difference
Because hyperacusis will vary from person to person, an individual treatment plan can be formulated depending on your symptoms as you experience them. Effectively treating hyperacusis depends on finding a strategy that’s best for you.