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Hearing & Balance Doctors is currently open. We are taking special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including offering a curbside service for hearing aids. Please call 435-688-8991 for more information. Utah: 435-688-8991 | Nevada: 702-896-0031
Hearing & Balance Doctors is currently open. We are taking special measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including offering a curbside service for hearing aids. Please call 435-688-8991 for more information. Utah: 435-688-8991 | Nevada: 702-896-0031

Why Do Certain Sounds Hurt?

Why Do Certain Sounds Hurt

Have you ever noticed how some sounds are more unpleasant than others? From nails on a chalkboard to a loud alarm, you might find yourself cringing at the sound. While you might not enjoy certain sounds, some individuals find that they have an ever higher sensitivity to these sounds, as well as everyday noises. Patients who are experiencing hypersensitivity to sounds might be diagnosed with hyperacusis, which means they feel pain.

Hearing & Balance Doctors is here to walk you through what hyperacusis is, what causes it, and how it’s treated.

What Is Hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is a rare condition that impacts one in 50,000 people. Those that are diagnosed experience hypersensitivity to sound which results in them feeling pain and discomfort. The type of pain and discomfort can vary from individual and ranges from feeling a sense of fullness in the ear or a thumping. Along with cochlear hyperacusis, which causes pain within the ear, there is also a condition known as vestibular hyperacusis which results in the patient feeling dizzy, nauseous, or off-balance. The pain from hyperacusis isn’t always constant — it can come in waves depending on your exposure to loud noises.

What Causes Hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis can affect patients of all ages and all levels of hearing, although it is more common in individuals who are already experiencing some form of hearing loss. Similar to hearing loss, individuals might experience hyperacusis in one ear or both ears.

This condition develops over time and is often brought on by damage to the cochlea from being exposed to loud noises such as concerts, gunfire, work environments, and fireworks. Hyperacusis can also be brought on by the following, but not limited to:

  • Head injuries
  • Lyme disease
  • Noise pollution
  • Migraines
  • Bell’s palsy
  • TMJ disorder
  • Ear damage

Hyperacusis is more prevalent in patients suffering from tinnitus, which is when individuals hear phantom ringing in their ears. The ringing in their ears can be more uncomfortable when encountering loud noises.

Hyperacusis Treatment Options

While there isn’t currently a corrective surgery to treat hyperacusis, there are a few different types of sound therapies that can be performed to help reduce the individual’s anxiety related to the condition. These include:

  • Retaining Therapy – Combining counseling and acoustic therapy, retaining therapy works to reduce the patient’s reactions to pain and discomfort caused by hyperacusis. By making it easier for them to cope with the sensitivity, they can use a positive approach when encountering loud noises.
  • Sound Generators – To get the patient’s ears more accustomed to sounds, the individual will wear a small device on their ears that produces a constant, gentle sound. The goal is to train their ears to become desensitized to sounds that they come into contact with when in a normal environment.

Hearing sensitivity can be caused but a variety of reasons, and if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort from noises, you must seek advice from a hearing specialist. Your audiologist will perform a comprehensive hearing evaluation to determine the cause of your hypersensitivity so they can recommend the best treatment for your condition.

No matter the cause of your hearing sensitivity, the audiologists at Hearing & Balance Doctors can help you make hearing a more comfortable experience.

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