What is hyperacusis and how does it affect our hearing?
Does the sound of the water faucet suddenly feel uncomfortably loud to you? Are certain sounds that were once routine — like the washing machine, silverware rattling in the drawer, and even group conversations — suddenly unbearably uncomfortable?
Sure, every once in a while we all can find these sounds to be annoying, but these average, everyday sounds are causing you discomfort, you might be experiencing something called hyperacusis.
Simply put, hyperacusis is an increased sensitivity to routine sounds at a normal level in a common environment. These are sounds that most people don’t even think twice about, because our brains have been trained to push them to the back of our attention.
Most of us don’t pay any attention to that lawn mower down the street or the whooshing sounds of the dishwasher in the kitchen, but for those of us who suffer from hyperacusis, these seemingly average sounds can often be distracting, if not downright painful.
Hyperacusis is a condition that negatively affects our hearing and our mental and emotional health, and is often associated with tinnitus.
What causes hyperacusis?
Much like tinnitus, the causes for a person to experience hyperacusis can vary wildly.
Many of these causes include:
- Exposure to loud noise
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder
- Migraine headaches
- Head injuries, including trauma from surgery
- Ototoxic medication
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Lyme disease
- And many more
It’s important to note that hearing difficulties caused by exposure to loud noise can also occur in different ways.
For instance, those who work in very loud environments, like in factory, construction, or industrial settings; dental offices where workers are exposed to the sounds of drills and other loud instruments; and even childcare centers are experiencing sounds at high decibels over a long period of time, which can lead to a variety of different hearing issues, including hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis.
Conversely, close-range exposure to a single gunshot blast, firework explosion, or similar high-decibel sounds can lead to the same range of hearing difficulties.
Our hearing health is vulnerable to noise, and if we’re unable to protect it in any number of situations, it is vulnerable to damage.
How can hyperacusis be treated?
Research shows that hyperacusis can be treated with hearing aids much in the same way that tinnitus is. Specifically, hearing aids that contain noise cancelling capabilities, as well as those with masking technology are considered to be most effective.
Masking technology refers to a feature that creates white noise that can be programmed at different frequencies in order to cancel out or diminish uncomfortable environmental sounds.
Through the regular use of properly fit hearing technology, in addition to any tinnitus or hyperacusis counseling recommended by your provider, many people who were once struggling with hyperacusis are now enjoying many of the things they were avoiding due to their condition.
The negative social and psychological effects of hearing loss, tinnitus, and hyperacusis are serious. The struggle with these experiences can cause people to withdraw from their communities, isolating themselves from the world. This social isolation can eventually lead to these conditions worsening, making recovery even more difficult.
Colorado Ear Care is here to help you with your hearing needs
You deserve to have a clear understanding of your hearing health. That’s why we’ve dedicated our practice to taking a comprehensive approach to testing, an approach that goes beyond the average hearing care practice.
Our emphasis is not on selling you products, but is instead on providing you with the testing, care, and services you deserve to live your life with the best hearing possible.
If you’re someone who works or is often exposed to loud environments, then your hearing health is at risk. Prolonged exposure to sounds over 85dB can cause permanent damage to your hearing, but even short bursts of sounds at these volumes can lead to irreversible harm.
We highly encourage you to wear hearing protection in these situations, whether they are professional, recreational, or otherwise.
It’s vital to preserve and protect your hearing
Colorado Ear Care offers a variety of hearing protection solutions, including swimmers’ plugs designed to protect the ears from infection; earplugs designed for sleeping; in-ear monitors for musicians; personalized earbuds; as well as earplugs designed to protect against occupational and recreational noise.
The best part? All of these solutions are custom-fit! Your earmolds are personalized to perfectly match your anatomy, giving you a confident, comfortably fit, along with the protection and clarity you need.
Colorado Ear Care also offers a wide range of hearing aid technology for those who would most benefit from them. Throughout our testing process, we take our time to really get to know you, your concerns about your hearing, and the way you like to live your life.
We always take these factors into consideration in combination with your test results to provide you with technology recommendations that will enhance your hearing, align with your budget, and open the door to a more fulfilling way of life again.
Isn’t it time you finally worked with an expert in hearing health so you can finally hear and feel your best again?