Pain is your body’s method of giving you information. It’s not a terribly fun method but it can be beneficial. When that megaphone you’re standing next to gets too loud, the pain lets you know that significant ear damage is occurring and you immediately (if you’re wise) cover your ears or remove yourself from that extremely loud environment.
But for around 8-10% of individuals, quiet sounds can be perceived as painfully loud, in spite of their measured decibel level. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. This is the medical term for excessively 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
Hyperacusis is a hypersensitivity to sound. The majority of individuals with hyperacusis have episodes that are activated by a certain group of sounds (usually sounds within a range of frequencies). Usually, quiet noises sound loud. And noises that are loud seem a lot louder than they actually are.
nobody’s quite sure what causes hyperacusis, although it’s frequently associated with tinnitus or other hearing problems (and, in some cases, neurological concerns). When it comes to symptoms, severity, and treatment, there is a significant degree of personal variability.
What kind of response is typical for hyperacusis?
In most instances, hyperacusis will look and feel something like this:
- Everyone else will think a certain sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
- The louder the sound is, the more intense your response and pain will be.
- You may notice pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing may last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).
- You might also have dizziness and problems keeping your balance.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When you have hyperacusis the world can become a minefield, especially when your ears are overly sensitive to a wide assortment of frequencies. Your hearing could be assaulted and you could be left with a terrible headache and ringing ears whenever you go out.
That’s why it’s so crucial to get treatment. There are various 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:
One of the most commonly implemented treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. While it may sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), actually though, 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 get to your ear. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis attack.
A less state-of-the-art strategy to this general method is earplugs: if all sound is blocked, there’s no chance of a hyperacusis incident. There are definitely some disadvantages to this low tech strategy. There’s some research that suggests that, over the long run, the earplugs can throw your hearing ecosystem even further off and make your hyperacusis worse. Consult us if you’re thinking about wearing earplugs.
An strategy, known as ear retraining therapy, is one of the most comprehensive hyperacusis treatments. You’ll try to change the way you respond to specific kinds of sounds by utilizing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a combination of devices. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. This strategy depends on your dedication but usually has a positive rate of success.
Less prevalent approaches
Less common strategies, including ear tubes or medication, are also used to manage hyperacusis. These approaches are less commonly used, depending on the specialist and the individual, because they have met with mixed results.
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. There’s no one best approach to treating hyperacusis, it really depends on choosing the right treatment for you.