One way your body offers information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective method though not a really enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing next to goes too loud, the pain lets you know that major ear damage is happening and you instantly (if you’re smart) cover your ears or remove yourself from that extremely loud environment.
But, in spite of their minimal volume, 8-10% of individuals will feel pain from low volume sounds too. This affliction is referred to by experts as hyperacusis. It’s a medical term for overly sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.
Heightened sound sensitivity
Hyperacusis is a hypersensitivity to sound. Most of the time sounds within a distinct frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for people who experience it. Quiet noises will often sound extremely loud. And loud noises sound even louder.
Hyperacusis is commonly linked to tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological issues, though no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a noticeable degree of individual variability when it comes to the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a normal hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
- You may also experience dizziness and trouble keeping your balance.
- After you hear the initial sound, you may experience pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- You will notice a specific sound, a sound that everyone else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem very loud to you.
Treatments for hyperacusis
When your hyperacusis makes you sensitive to a wide variety of frequencies, the world can be like a minefield. Your hearing could be assaulted and you could be left with a terrible headache and ringing ears anytime you go out.
That’s why it’s so important 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. The most common options include the following.
A device known as a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. This is a device that can cancel out certain frequencies. So those offending frequencies can be eliminated before they make it to your ears. If you can’t hear the offending sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.
A less sophisticated approach to this basic method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear… well, anything. It’s undoubtedly a low-tech strategy, and there are some drawbacks. Your overall hearing issues, including hyperacusis, may get worse by using this strategy, according to some evidence. If you’re considering using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.
One of the most in-depth approaches to treating hyperacusis is called ear retraining therapy. You’ll use a combination of devices, physical therapy, and emotional therapy to try to change how you react to certain kinds of sounds. Training yourself to dismiss sounds is the basic idea. Normally, this strategy has a good rate of success but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.
Less common methods
Less prevalent methods, like ear tubes or medication, are also utilized to manage hyperacusis. These approaches are less commonly utilized, depending on the specialist and the individual, because they have delivered mixed results.
A huge difference can come from treatment
Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which vary from person to person, a unique treatment plan can be created. There’s no one best approach to treating hyperacusis, it really depends on choosing the right treatment for you.