How do you treat hyperacusis?
Is hyperacusis curable?
The good news is that hyperacusis is almost completely alleviated through a sound therapy treatment protocol. If you think that you or a loved one has hyperacusis, you should seek an appointment with one of our experienced audiologists. Your listening assessment and Uncomfortable Loudness Levels (UCLs) will provide us with important data about how healthy your ears are, and how this might affect your hyperacusis. If we find evidence of hyperacusis, we will suggest different ways of treating the condition so you can manage it properly.
How can I treat my hyperacusis?
Though there is no instant cure for hyperacusis, therapy can enhance the quality of life of the individual by lowering their anxieties over sounds, helping them acclimatize to unpleasant sounds and making sounds seem less overbearing. Our goal is to help those with hyperacusis become used to the sounds around them again.
Our methods generally involve daily use of small sound generators, which are worn behind your ears like you would wear hearing aids. The sound systems feed different kinds of ambient sounds into your ears through an earbud. They are designed to provide consistent exposure to low levels of sound as you continue to take in noise from the outside world. Since hyperacusis generally impacts both ears, a noise generator is normally provided for each ear.
You begin by listening for a very short time to a very quiet sound. The duration you use your sound generators gradually extends to six hours a day if you are not encountering issues.
Then you have to raise the volume slightly. You'll then take a while to adjust to that sound before the next level.
You then boost the volume if you can readily handle the latest sound level. Slowly increasing the volume like this will enhance your ability to handle different sound environments in your life.
You do not have to reach a set volume level. When you can tolerate most noise environments, you don't have to raise the volume any longer. At this stage, you can either decrease the volume level gradually, or decrease your dependence on the sound generators.
Finally, when you can handle other environments without your sound generators, we consider the therapy to be complete. You are successfully managing your hyperacusis!
What else should I know about hyperacusis?
Unlike tinnitus and misophonia, hyperacusis is an abnormal perception of intensity of sound in the brain. The limbic and autonomic nervous systems are a secondary function. Our desensitization therapy allows the brain to be retrained to perceive sounds at their appropriate intensities.
It should be noted that hyperacusis is different from phonophobia, which is the fear of sound. Phonophobia can be helped through a sound therapy protocol in conjunction with mindfulness or other therapy approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Hyperacusis patients may also benefit from using these therapies as well.
Should I use earplugs to help my hyperacusis?
We discourage the use of ear plugs and hearing protection to treat hyperacusis unless absolutely necessary, because it increases sensitivity to sound once the earplugs are taken out. By adding a soft level sound to the environment, we can increase a person’s tolerance for sounds.
While most people want silence when suffering from hyperacusis, it is not recommended for them to surround themselves with complete silence. The earlier you get used to all the noisy sounds the world has to offer, the better! We can improve a person's tolerance for sounds by maintaining a low-level of residual noise on a regular basis.