Pain is your body’s method of giving you information. It’s not a very enjoyable 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 occurring and you can take measures to move further away or at least cover your ears.
But, despite their minimal volume, 8-10% of people will feel pain from quiet sounds as well. This affliction is referred to by experts as hyperacusis. It’s a fancy name 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. Usually sounds within a distinct frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for people who experience it. Typically, quiet noises sound loud. And loud noises seem even louder.
Hyperacusis is frequently linked to tinnitus, hearing trouble, and even neurological issues, although no one really knows what actually causes it. When it comes to symptoms, intensity, and treatment, there is a significant degree of individual variability.
What’s a normal hyperacusis response?
In most instances, hyperacusis will look and feel something like this:
- Your response and discomfort will be worse the louder the sound is.
- You will hear a certain sound, a sound that everybody else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem really loud to you.
- 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).
- Balance problems and dizziness can also be experienced.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide variety of frequencies, the world can be like a minefield. You never know when a pleasant night out will suddenly turn into an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and a three-day migraine.
That’s why treatment is so important. You’ll want to come in and talk with us about which treatments will be most up your alley (this all tends to be quite variable). Here are some of the most common options:
A device called a masking device is one of the most common treatments for hyperacusis. This is technology that can cancel out specified frequencies. These devices, then, are able to selectively hide those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever get to 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: if all sound is stopped, there’s no possibility of a hyperacusis event. There are undoubtedly some disadvantages to this low tech method. There’s some research that suggests that, over the long run, the earplugs can throw your hearing ecosystem even further out of whack and make your hyperacusis worse. If you’re thinking about using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.
An strategy, known as ear retraining therapy, is one of the most extensive hyperacusis treatments. You’ll try to change how you react to specific kinds of sounds by employing physical therapy, emotional counseling, and a mix of devices. Training yourself to ignore sounds is the basic idea. Generally, this strategy has a good success rate but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.
Less prevalent solutions
Less common strategies, including ear tubes or medication, are also used to manage hyperacusis. Both of these strategies have met with only varying results, so they aren’t as commonly 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, an individual treatment plan can be developed. Effectively treating hyperacusis depends on determining a strategy that’s best for you.