Are There Treatments for Hyperacusis?

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

One way your body provides information to you is through pain response. It’s an effective strategy though not a very enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing near gets too loud, the pain lets you know that major ear damage is happening and you instantly (if you’re wise) cover your ears or remove yourself from that rather loud environment.

But for about 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be detected as painfully loud, in spite of their measured decibel level. This condition is referred to by experts as hyperacusis. It’s a medical term for overly sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.

Increased sensitivity to sound

Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. The majority of individuals with hyperacusis have episodes that are activated by a certain set of sounds (commonly sounds within a range of frequencies). Typically, quiet noises sound loud. And loud noises seem even louder.

Hyperacusis is often connected with tinnitus, hearing trouble, and even neurological issues, although no one really knows what actually causes it. With regards to symptoms, severity, and treatment, there’s a noticeable degree of personal variability.

What’s a normal hyperacusis response?

Here’s how hyperacusis, in most cases, will look and feel::

  • You might also have dizziness and difficulty keeping your balance.
  • Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
  • Everyone else will think a certain sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
  • After you hear the initial sound, you may have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.

Treatments for hyperacusis

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

That’s why treatment is so important. There are various treatments available depending on your specific situation and we can help you pick one that’s best for you. The most common options include the following.

Masking devices

One of the most commonly implemented treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. This is a device that can cancel out certain wavelengths. So those unpleasant frequencies can be removed before they make it to your ears. If you can’t hear the offending sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.

Earplugs

A less sophisticated approach to this basic method is earplugs: if all sound is blocked, there’s no possibility of a hyperacusis incident. It’s definitely a low-tech approach, and there are some drawbacks. There’s some evidence to suggest 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, contact us for a consultation.

Ear retraining

An approach, 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 react to particular types of sounds. The concept is that you can train yourself to disregard sounds (rather like with tinnitus). Generally, this approach has a good rate of success but depends a great deal on your dedication to the process.

Less prevalent strategies

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

A big difference can come from treatment

Because hyperacusis will vary from person to person, an individual treatment plan can be developed depending on your symptoms as you encounter them. There’s no one 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.