Pain is your body’s means of delivering information. It’s not a very fun method but it can be effective. When your ears start to feel the pain of a really loud megaphone next to you, you know damage is taking place and you can take steps to move further away or at least cover your ears.
But, despite their marginal volume, 8-10% of people will feel pain from quiet sounds as well. This condition is referred to by experts as hyperacusis. This is the medical term for overly sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.
Heightened sound sensitivity
Hyperacusis is a hypersensitivity to sound. The majority of individuals with hyperacusis have episodes that are activated by a particular group of sounds (usually sounds within a range of frequencies). Quiet noises will frequently sound very loud. And loud noises sound even louder.
Hyperacusis is commonly associated with tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological difficulties, though no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a noticeable degree of personal variability when it comes to the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What’s a normal hyperacusis response?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::
- After you hear the initial sound, you could experience pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- Your response and discomfort will be worse the louder the sound is.
- You might also experience dizziness and trouble keeping your balance.
- You will notice a specific sound, a sound that everybody else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem really loud to you.
Hyperacusis treatment treatment
When you are dealing with hyperacusis the world can become a minefield, particularly when your ears are extremely sensitive to a wide variety of frequencies. Your hearing could be bombarded and you could be left with an awful headache and ringing ears anytime you go out.
That’s why treatment is so essential. You’ll want to come in and speak 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.
A device called a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. This is technology that can cancel out specified frequencies. So those offensive frequencies can be eliminated before they reach your ears. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.
Earplugs are a less state-of-the-art play on the same general approach: if all sound is stopped, there’s no possibility of a hyperacusis episode. It’s undoubtedly a low-tech approach, and there are some drawbacks. 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. If you’re considering using earplugs, call us for a consultation.
One of the most comprehensive approaches to treating hyperacusis is called ear retraining therapy. You’ll use a mix of devices, physical therapy, and emotional counseling to try to change how you respond to certain types of sounds. The idea is that you can train yourself to dismiss sounds (kind of like with tinnitus). This strategy depends on your dedication but generally has a positive success rate.
Less common methods
Less prevalent methods, like ear tubes or medication, are also used to treat hyperacusis. These approaches are less commonly used, depending on the specialist and the individual, because they have met with mixed success.
Treatment makes a huge difference
Because hyperacusis tends to differ 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 best treatment for you.