Pain is your body’s way of giving you information. It’s not a terribly fun approach but it can be beneficial. When that megaphone you’re standing next to goes too loud, the pain allows you to know that major ear damage is occurring and you instantly (if you’re smart) cover your ears or remove yourself from that rather loud environment.
But, in spite of their marginal volume, 8-10% of individuals will feel pain from quiet sounds too. Hearing specialists refer to this condition as hyperacusis. It’s a medical term for overly sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.
Heightened sound sensitivity
Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. Most people with hyperacusis have episodes that are brought about by a certain group of sounds (commonly sounds within a range of frequencies). Usually, quiet noises sound loud. And loud noises seem even louder.
nobody’s really sure what causes hyperacusis, though it’s frequently related to tinnitus or other hearing issues (and, in some cases, neurological issues). There’s a significant degree of personal variability when it comes to the symptoms, intensity, and treatment of hyperacusis.
What type of response is normal for hyperacusis?
Here’s how hyperacusis, in most situations, will look and feel::
- Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.
- After you hear the initial sound, you may have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
- The louder the sound is, the more extreme your response and pain will be.
- Everyone else will think a specific sound is quiet but it will sound very loud to you.
Treatments for hyperacusis
When you are dealing with hyperacusis the world can be a minefield, especially when your ears are very sensitive to a wide range of frequencies. You never know when a pleasant 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 important. You’ll want to come in and talk with us about which treatments will be your best option (this all tends to be quite variable). Here are some of the most common options:
A device known as a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. This is a device that can cancel out certain frequencies. These devices, then, are able to selectively hide those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever reach your ear. You can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear the triggering sound!
A less sophisticated 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 evidence to suggest that, over the long run, the earplugs can throw your hearing ecosystem even further out of whack and make your hyperacusis worse. Consult us if you’re thinking about using earplugs.
An strategy, known as ear retraining therapy, is one of the most extensive hyperacusis treatments. You’ll use a mix of devices, physical therapy, and emotional counseling to try to change the way you respond to certain kinds of sounds. Training yourself to disregard sounds is the basic idea. This process depends on your dedication but usually has a positive rate of success.
Less common solutions
There are also some less prevalent approaches for treating hyperacusis, including medications or ear tubes. These strategies are less commonly used, depending on the specialist and the person, 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 single best approach to managing hyperacusis, it really depends on finding the best treatment for you.