Pain is your body’s means of delivering information. It’s an effective strategy though not a really enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing next to gets too loud, the pain lets you know that severe ear damage is occurring and you instantly (if you’re wise) cover your ears or remove yourself from that rather loud environment.
But for around 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be perceived 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. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.
Heightened sound sensitivity
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. The majority of people with hyperacusis have episodes that are activated by a particular group of sounds (usually sounds within a frequency range). Quiet noises will often sound extremely loud. And noises that are loud sound a lot louder than they are.
nobody’s really certain what causes hyperacusis, though it’s frequently associated with tinnitus or other hearing issues (and, in some instances, neurological concerns). When it comes to symptoms, intensity, and treatment, there is a significant degree of personal variability.
What kind of response is typical for hyperacusis?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most situations, will look and feel::
- The louder the sound is, the more intense your response and pain will be.
- Everybody else will think a particular sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
- You may notice pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing could last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
- You might also experience dizziness and problems keeping your balance.
Treatments for hyperacusis
When you are dealing with hyperacusis the world can become a minefield, particularly when your ears are extremely 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 it’s so essential to get treatment. There are a variety of treatments available depending on your particular situation and we can help you choose one that’s best for you. Here are some of the most prevalent options:
A device known as a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. While it might sound perfect 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 hide those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever reach your ear. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis attack.
Earplugs are a less sophisticated play on the same general approach: if all sound is stopped, there’s no possibility of a hyperacusis event. It’s definitely a low-tech approach, and there are some disadvantages. 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 considering using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.
One of the most in-depth methods of treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll use a mix of devices, physical therapy, and emotional therapy to try to change how you respond to particular types of sounds. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. Normally, this approach has a good rate of success but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.
Strategies that are less prevalent
Less common approaches, like ear tubes or medication, are also used to treat hyperacusis. Both of these approaches have met with only mixed results, so they aren’t as frequently utilized (it’ll depend on the individual and the specialist).
Treatment makes a big difference
Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which differ from person to person, a unique treatment plan can be created. Effectively treating hyperacusis depends on finding a strategy that’s best for you.