Can Hyperacusis be Treated?

Man troubled by bothersome noises holding hands over his ears to block them out.

Pain is your body’s way of supplying information. It’s an effective method though not a very enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing near goes too loud, the pain allows you to know that significant ear damage is occurring and you instantly (if you’re smart) cover your ears or remove yourself from that rather loud environment.

But for about 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be perceived as painfully loud, in spite of their measured decibel level. This affliction is referred to by experts as hyperacusis. This is the medical label 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. Usually sounds within a particular frequency cause episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who experience it. Quiet noises will often sound very loud. And loud noises sound even louder.

Hyperacusis is frequently connected with tinnitus, hearing trouble, and even neurological difficulties, although no one really knows what actually causes it. There’s a significant degree of individual variability when it comes to the symptoms, severity, and treatment of hyperacusis.

What’s a normal hyperacusis response?

In most instances, hyperacusis will look and feel something like this:

  • Balance problems and dizziness can also be experienced.
  • Everyone else will think a certain sound is quiet but it will sound very loud to you.
  • The louder the sound is, the more extreme your response and discomfort will be.
  • You might experience pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing may last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).

Hyperacusis treatment treatment

When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide variety of frequencies, the world can seem like a minefield. You never know when a wonderful night out will suddenly turn into an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and a three-day migraine.

That’s why it’s so important to get treatment. There are various treatments available depending on your particular situation and we can help you pick one that’s best for you. Here are some of the most prevalent options:

Masking devices

One of the most frequently deployed treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. While it might sound ideal for Halloween (sorry), in reality, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out specific wavelengths of sounds. These devices, then, have the ability to selectively hide those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever reach your ear. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.

Earplugs

A less state-of-the-art strategy to this basic method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis episode if you can’t hear… well, anything. There are definitely some drawbacks to this low tech approach. Your overall hearing issues, including hyperacusis, may get worse by using this approach, according to some evidence. Consult us if you’re thinking about using earplugs.

Ear retraining

One of the most in-depth approaches to treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll use a combination of devices, physical therapy, and emotional therapy to try to change how you respond to certain types of sounds. Training yourself to disregard sounds is the basic idea. Generally, this approach has a good success rate but depends heavily on your dedication to the process.

Methods that are less common

There are also some less prevalent strategies for managing hyperacusis, such as medications or ear tubes. Both of these approaches have met with only varying success, so they aren’t as commonly utilized (it’ll depend on the person and the specialist).

A big difference can come from treatment

Because hyperacusis will vary from person to person, a specialized treatment plan can be formulated depending on your symptoms as you experience them. There’s no single best approach to managing hyperacusis, it really depends on choosing the best treatment for you.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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