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

Pain is your body’s means of delivering information. It’s not a terribly enjoyable method but it can be beneficial. When your ears begin to feel the pain of a very loud megaphone near you, you know damage is occurring and you can take measures to move further away or at least cover your ears.

But, despite their marginal volume, 8-10% of people will feel pain from low volume sounds as well. Hearing specialists refer to this affliction as hyperacusis. This is the medical name for overly sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.

Increased sensitivity to sound

Hyperacusis is a hypersensitivity to sound. Most of the time sounds within a particular frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for people who experience it. Typically, quiet noises sound loud. And noises that are loud sound a lot louder than they actually are.

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

What type of response is normal for hyperacusis?

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

  • After you hear the initial sound, you could have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
  • The louder the sound is, the more intense your response and pain will be.
  • You may also experience dizziness and trouble keeping your balance.
  • Everybody else will think a particular sound is quiet but it will sound very loud to you.

Hyperacusis treatment treatment

When your hyperacusis makes you sensitive to a wide assortment of frequencies, the world can be like a minefield. Your hearing could be assaulted and you could be left with an awful headache and ringing ears whenever you go out.

That’s why it’s so crucial to get treatment. There are a variety of treatments available depending on your specific situation and we can help you choose one that’s best for you. Here are some of the most common options:

Masking devices

A device called a masking device is one of the most popular treatments for hyperacusis. While it might sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), in reality, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out select wavelengths of sounds. These devices, then, have the ability to selectively hide those triggering wavelengths of sound before they ever reach your ear. You can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you can’t hear the triggering sound!


A less sophisticated approach to this general method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis episode if you can’t hear… well, anything. It’s undoubtedly a low-tech approach, and there are some drawbacks. Your general hearing issues, including hyperacusis, could get worse by using this approach, according to some evidence. If you’re considering using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.

Ear retraining

One of the most in-depth approaches to treating hyperacusis is known as ear retraining therapy. You’ll use a mix of devices, physical therapy, and emotional counseling to try to change how you respond to certain types of sounds. The idea is that you can train yourself to dismiss sounds (rather like with tinnitus). Normally, this approach has a good rate of success but depends a great deal on your dedication to the process.

Approaches that are less prevalent

Less common approaches, including ear tubes or medication, are also used to treat hyperacusis. Both of these strategies have met with only mixed success, so they aren’t as commonly used (it’ll depend on the individual and the specialist).

Treatment makes a huge difference

Depending on how you experience your symptoms, which differ from person to person, a specialized treatment plan can be created. There’s no one best approach to treating hyperacusis, it really depends on finding the right treatment for you.

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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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