One way your body offers information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective strategy though not a very enjoyable one. When your ears begin to feel the pain of a very loud megaphone next to you, you know damage is occurring and you can take measures to move further away or at least cover your ears.
But for about 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be perceived as painfully loud, despite their measured decibel level. This affliction is referred to by experts as hyperacusis. This is the medical label 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 within a specific frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who experience 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 issues, although no one really knows what actually causes it. With regards to symptoms, severity, and treatment, there is a significant degree of personal variability.
What’s a normal hyperacusis response?
In most instances, hyperacusis will look and feel something like this:
- The louder the sound is, the more powerful your response and pain will be.
- After you hear the initial sound, you may have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- You will notice a specific sound, a sound that everybody else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem really loud to you.
- You may also experience dizziness and problems keeping your balance.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When you have hyperacusis the world can be a minefield, especially when your ears are overly sensitive to a wide assortment of frequencies. You never know when a lovely night out will suddenly turn into an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and an intense migraine.
That’s why it’s so essential to get treatment. You’ll want to come in and speak with us about which treatments will be your best option (this all tends to be quite variable). Here are some of the most prevalent options:
One of the most frequently implemented treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. This is technology that can cancel out specified frequencies. So those offensive frequencies can be eliminated before they make it to your ears. You can’t have a hyperacusis episode if you can’t hear the offending sound!
Earplugs are a less state-of-the-art take on the same basic approach: you can’t have a hyperacusis episode if you’re unable to hear… well, anything. It’s definitely a low-tech strategy, and there are some disadvantages. Your overall hearing problems, including hyperacusis, may get worse by using this strategy, according to some evidence. Consult us if you’re considering using earplugs.
One of the most thorough approaches to treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll try to change the way you react to certain types of sounds by using physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. Generally, this strategy has a good rate of success but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.
Strategies that are less common
Less common methods, like ear tubes or medication, are also used to treat hyperacusis. Both of these strategies have met with only varying success, so they aren’t as commonly utilized (it’ll depend on the person and the specialist).
A huge difference can come from treatment
Because hyperacusis has a tendency to vary from person to person, an individual treatment plan can be formulated depending on your symptoms as you encounter them. There’s no single best approach to managing hyperacusis, it really depends on choosing the right treatment for you.