Living in a world where the volume is turned up too high.

 

What is hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis, otherwise known as sound sensitivity, is when everyday sounds – anything from bus brakes to babies crying to dishes tapping together to water running from the faucet – are extremely irritating and even painful.

 

How common is hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is rare, only occurring in approximately 9% of adults

 

What are common causes and comorbidities of hyperacusis?

  • Head injury
  • Sudden noise-induced damage to the cochlea (fireworks, gunfire, rock concerts)
  • Damage to the inner ear from certain medications or chemicals
  • Certain autoimmune diseases
  • Viral infections
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder)
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

 

How is hyperacusis evaluated?

Due to an array of things that could be causing the sound sensitivity, it is best to consult with an audiologist.

Patients receive a physical ear examination and provide a comprehensive medical history. The audiologist then tests the patient’s hearing sensitivity as well as their tolerance levels for sounds and speech. At that time, the audiologist will confirm the presence of hyperacusis and determine the direction treatment will take.

 

Do ear plugs or earphones help?

Ear plugs and earphones, while sometimes giving temporary relief, create more harm than good. The brain realizes when sound is reduced and, if reduced for long periods of time, tries to increase the volume within the brain. We call this central gain. The perception of loudness becomes distorted. The brain becomes used to softer volumes all around and then normal sounds heard without hearing protection are perceived as too loud, thus making the hyperacusis worse.

 

What are treatment options?

Treatment for hyperacusis can vary from individual to individual and depends on the cause. Occasionally it can resolve by itself.

Audiologists treat hyperacusis by using an approach that aims to improve the patient’s quality of life, help them cope with uncomfortable sounds, and reduce their sound sensitivity. Sound therapy, through the use of sound generators and one-on-one counseling, can help stop central gain and retrain the brain’s auditory processing center to recalibrate and accept everyday sounds as normal again. The patient wears carefully programmed sound-generators that produce low-level soothing sounds. Over the course of treatment, which varies from person to person, regular use of the devices combined with counseling teach the patient how to control the brain’s focus and to rethink the meaning and impact of the sound, which rebuilds the patient’s tolerance to sound. Sound therapy requires direction of a qualified audiologist to be effective.

 

What are sound generators?

Sound generators are devices that are worn all day on/in both ears without occluding, or stopping up, the ear canal. They generate white noise on their own, with the frequency response and volume output controlled by the patient, and stream from iPhones, iPods, iPads, and some Android phones. They are completely controlled by the patient, all day long. To fit all of these criteria, we fit specific hearing aids that have low level amplification technology but high-end streaming and sound generation capabilities. These are the ONLY instruments which fulfill all the needed requirements.

 

Will insurance cover the costs?

Insurance coverage depends totally upon your policy. It must be determined on a case-by-case basis. While we certainly will help you, the policyholder has the most access and rights to determine coverage than we do as providers of service.