Pain is your body’s means of delivering information. It’s not a very enjoyable method but it can be effective. When your ears begin to feel the pain of a really loud megaphone next to you, you know damage is happening and you can take steps to move further away or at least cover your ears.
But for around 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be detected as painfully loud, in spite of their measured decibel level. Hearing specialists refer to this condition 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.
Elevated sensitivity to sound
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. Most of the time sounds in a distinct frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who suffer from it. Quiet noises will often sound very loud. And noises that are loud seem a lot louder than they are.
No one’s quite sure what causes hyperacusis, though it’s often associated with tinnitus or other hearing issues (and, in some cases, neurological issues). With regards to symptoms, severity, and treatment, there is a noticeable degree of individual variability.
What’s a typical hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most situations, will look and feel::
- You will notice a specific sound, a sound that everyone else perceives as quiet, and that sound will sound exceptionally loud to you.
- Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
- After you hear the initial sound, you could experience pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When you are dealing with hyperacusis the world can be a minefield, especially when your ears are very sensitive to a wide variety of frequencies. Your hearing could be assaulted and you could be left with an awful headache and ringing ears whenever you go out.
That’s why treatment is so essential. There are various treatments available depending on your particular situation and we can help you pick one that’s best for you. The most common options include the following.
A device called a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. While it might sound ideal for Halloween (sorry), in reality, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out specific 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 episode.
Earplugs are a less sophisticated take on the same basic approach: if all sound is blocked, there’s no possibility of a hyperacusis event. It’s undoubtedly a low-tech approach, and there are some disadvantages. There’s some evidence to suggest that, over the long run, the earplugs can throw your hearing ecosystem even further out of whack and make your hyperacusis worse. Consult us if you’re thinking about wearing earplugs.
One of the most comprehensive methods of managing hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll attempt to change how you respond to certain kinds of sounds by using physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a mix of devices. Training yourself to disregard sounds is the basic idea. Normally, this approach has a good success rate but depends a great deal on your dedication to the process.
Approaches 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 individual, because they have delivered mixed results.
Treatment makes a huge difference
Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which differ from person to person, an individual treatment plan can be developed. Effectively treating hyperacusis depends on determining an approach that’s best for you.