One way your body delivers information to you is through pain response. It’s not a terribly fun method but it can be beneficial. When your ears begin to feel the pain of a very loud megaphone near you, you know damage is occurring and you can take measures to move further away or at least cover your ears.
But, in spite of their minimal volume, 8-10% of people will feel pain from quiet sounds as well. This condition is known by experts as hyperacusis. It’s a fancy name 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 within a distinct frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for people who suffer from it. Quiet noises will often sound very loud. And noises that are loud seem a lot louder than they are.
Hyperacusis is frequently associated with tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological difficulties, though no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a noticeable degree of personal variability with the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a typical hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most situations, will look and feel::
- 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).
- Balance problems and dizziness can also be experienced.
- You will notice a certain sound, a sound that everyone else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem really loud to you.
- Your response and discomfort will be worse the louder the sound is.
Treatments for hyperacusis
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide range of frequencies, the world can be like a minefield. Your hearing could be bombarded and you could be left with an awful headache and ringing ears whenever you go out.
That’s why it’s so crucial to get treatment. You’ll want to come in and speak with us about which treatments will be most up your alley (this all tends to be quite variable). Here are some of the most prevalent options:
One of the most commonly used treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. This is a device that can cancel out specified wavelengths. So those offending frequencies can be eliminated before they reach your ears. You can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear the offending sound!
A less sophisticated strategy to this general method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis event if you can’t hear… well, anything. It’s certainly a low-tech approach, and there are some drawbacks. Your general hearing issues, including hyperacusis, may worsen by using this strategy, according to some evidence. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.
One of the most comprehensive approaches to managing hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll try to change how you react to specific types of sounds by using physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. This process depends on your commitment but usually has a positive rate of success.
Strategies that are less prevalent
Less common strategies, like ear tubes or medication, are also used to manage hyperacusis. These approaches are less commonly utilized, depending on the specialist and the person, because they have delivered mixed results.
A big difference can come from treatment
Because hyperacusis will vary from person to person, an individual 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.