Pain is your body’s way of delivering information. It’s an effective strategy though not a really enjoyable one. When your ears begin to feel the pain of a very loud megaphone near you, you know damage is occurring and you can take measures to move further away or at least cover your ears.
But for around 8-10% of individuals, quiet sounds can be perceived as painfully loud, despite their measured decibel level. Hearing specialists refer to this condition as hyperacusis. It’s a fancy name for overly sensitive ears. There’s no cure for hyperacusis, but there are treatments that can help you get a handle on your symptoms.
Heightened sound sensitivity
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. The majority of individuals with hyperacusis have episodes that are activated by a specific set of sounds (commonly sounds within a frequency range). Normally, quiet noises sound loud. And noises that are loud seem a lot louder than they actually are.
Hyperacusis is often associated with tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological difficulties, though no one really knows what actually causes it. 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::
- Balance problems and dizziness can also be experienced.
- 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).
- Everyone else will think a certain sound is quiet but it will sound very loud to you.
- The louder the sound is, the more intense your response and pain will be.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide variety of frequencies, the world can be like a minefield. Your hearing could be bombarded and you could be left with an awful headache and ringing ears anytime you go out.
That’s why it’s so essential to get treatment. You’ll want to come in and consult with us about which treatments will be most up your alley (this all tends to be rather variable). The most popular options include the following.
One of the most frequently deployed treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. This is technology that can cancel out specified wavelengths. So those offending frequencies can be removed 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 basic method is earplugs: if all sound is blocked, there’s no chance of a hyperacusis incident. There are certainly some drawbacks to this low tech approach. Your general hearing issues, including hyperacusis, could get worse by using this strategy, according to some evidence. Consult us if you’re considering wearing earplugs.
One of the most in-depth approaches to managing hyperacusis is called ear retraining therapy. You’ll try to change the way you respond to certain kinds of sounds by using physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. Training yourself to disregard sounds is the basic idea. This process depends on your dedication but generally has a positive success rate.
Methods that are less prevalent
Less common strategies, like ear tubes or medication, are also used to treat hyperacusis. These approaches are less commonly used, depending on the specialist and the person, because they have delivered mixed results.
Treatment makes a big difference
Because hyperacusis will vary from person to person, a specialized treatment plan can be developed depending on your symptoms as you encounter them. There’s no single best approach to treating hyperacusis, it really depends on finding the right treatment for you.