Pain is your body’s way of giving you information. It’s an effective method though not a very enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing next to goes too loud, the pain allows you to know that major ear damage is occurring and you instantly (if you’re wise) cover your ears or remove yourself from that extremely loud environment.
But, in spite of their marginal volume, 8-10% of people will feel pain from quiet sounds too. Hearing specialists refer to this condition as hyperacusis. This is the medical label for excessively sensitive ears. There’s no cure for hyperacusis, but there are treatments that can help you get a handle on your symptoms.
Elevated sensitivity to sound
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. Most of the time sounds within a specific frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for people who experience it. Quiet noises will frequently sound very loud. And loud noises seem even louder.
Hyperacusis is frequently linked to tinnitus, hearing trouble, and even neurological difficulties, though no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a noticeable degree of personal variability when it comes to the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What type of response is typical for hyperacusis?
In most cases, hyperacusis will look and feel something like this:
- You might notice pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing could last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
- Everyone else will think a particular sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
- The louder the sound is, the more extreme your response and discomfort will be.
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you sensitive to a wide range 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 important to get treatment. You’ll want to come in and consult with us about which treatments will be your best option (this all tends to be quite variable). The most popular options include the following.
A device called a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. While it may sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), in reality, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out select wavelengths of sounds. So those unpleasant frequencies can be eliminated before they reach your ears. You can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear the triggering sound!
A less sophisticated strategy to this general method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis episode if you can’t hear… well, anything. There are definitely some drawbacks to this low tech approach. There’s some research that suggests that, over time, the earplugs can throw your hearing ecosystem even further off and make your hyperacusis worse. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, give us a call for a consultation.
One of the most comprehensive approaches to treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll attempt to change how you react to certain kinds of sounds by utilizing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a mix of devices. Training yourself to dismiss sounds is the basic idea. This strategy depends on your dedication but generally has a positive success rate.
strategies that are less common
Less prevalent approaches, including ear tubes or medication, are also utilized to treat hyperacusis. Both of these approaches have met with only varying results, so they aren’t as frequently used (it’ll depend on the individual and the specialist).
Treatment makes a huge difference
Because hyperacusis has a tendency to vary from person to person, an individual treatment plan can be formulated depending on your symptoms as you encounter them. There’s no single best approach to managing hyperacusis, it really depends on choosing the best treatment for you.