Pain is your body’s means of giving you information. It’s not a very fun approach but it can be beneficial. When your ears start to feel the pain of a very loud megaphone near you, you know damage is taking place and you can take measures to move further away or at least cover your ears.
But, in spite of their marginal volume, 8-10% of people will feel pain from quiet sounds too. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. This is the medical term for overly sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.
Elevated sensitivity to sound
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. Most of the time sounds within a distinct frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for people who suffer from it. Normally, quiet noises sound loud. And noises that are loud sound a lot louder than they are.
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 individual variability with the symptoms, severity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a normal hyperacusis response?
In most instances, hyperacusis will look and feel something like this:
- You might also have dizziness and difficulty keeping your balance.
- The louder the sound is, the more powerful your response and discomfort will be.
- Everybody else will think a specific sound is quiet but it will sound very loud to you.
- You might experience pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing could last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide assortment of frequencies, the world can be like a minefield. You never know when a pleasant night out will suddenly become an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and an intense migraine.
That’s why treatment is so crucial. 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:
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. So those offensive frequencies can be eliminated before they get to your ears. You can’t have a hyperacusis episode if you can’t hear the offending sound!
A less state-of-the-art strategy to this general method is earplugs: if all sound is stopped, there’s no chance of a hyperacusis event. There are certainly some drawbacks to this low tech method. Your overall hearing issues, including hyperacusis, may worsen by using this approach, according to some evidence. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, give us a call for a consultation.
An approach, known as ear retraining therapy, is one of the most comprehensive hyperacusis treatments. You’ll attempt to change how you respond to specific types of sounds by using physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. Training yourself to dismiss sounds is the basic idea. Normally, this approach has a good rate of success but depends a great deal on your commitment to the process.
Less prevalent solutions
There are also some less common strategies for managing hyperacusis, including medications or ear tubes. 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
Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which differ from person to person, a specialized treatment plan can be created. Effectively treating hyperacusis depends on finding a strategy that’s best for you.