One way your body provides information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective strategy though not a really pleasant one. 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 low volume sounds as well. This affliction is known by experts as hyperacusis. This is the medical name for excessively 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. The majority of people with hyperacusis have episodes that are brought about by a particular group of sounds (usually sounds within a range of frequencies). Quiet noises will often sound really loud. And loud noises sound even louder.
nobody’s quite sure what causes hyperacusis, although it’s frequently linked to tinnitus or other hearing issues (and, in some instances, neurological issues). There’s a noticeable degree of personal variability when it comes to the symptoms, severity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a normal hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- Everybody else will think a certain sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
- After you hear the initial sound, you could have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
- Your response and discomfort will be worse the louder the sound is.
When your hyperacusis makes you sensitive to a wide variety of frequencies, the world can seem like a minefield. You never know when a wonderful night out will suddenly turn into an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and an intense migraine.
That’s why treatment is so essential. There are a variety of treatments available depending on your specific situation and we can help you choose one that’s best for you. Here are some of the most prevalent options:
One of the most frequently used treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. While it might sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), in reality, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out specific wavelengths of sounds. These devices, then, have the ability to selectively mask those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever reach your ear. If you can’t hear the offending sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.
A less state-of-the-art strategy to this general method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you’re unable to hear… well, anything. It’s certainly a low-tech strategy, and there are some drawbacks. Your overall hearing problems, including hyperacusis, may get worse by using this approach, according to some evidence. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.
One of the most thorough approaches to treating hyperacusis is called ear retraining therapy. You’ll try to change how 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. Generally, this approach has a good success rate but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.
Less prevalent strategies
There are also some less prevalent strategies for treating hyperacusis, like medications or ear tubes. These strategies are less commonly utilized, depending on the specialist and the person, because they have met with mixed results.
A huge difference can come from treatment
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 finding an approach that’s best for you.