Hyperacusis & Misophonia Treatment
What is Hyperacusis?
Hyperacusis is defined as a reduced tolerance to environmental sounds most of us would consider normal.
It occurs due to the ears losing most of their dynamic range, which is the capacity of the ear to handle quick changes in sound levels. Everyday noises become very difficult to tolerate. The disease is often recurrent and sometimes accompanied by tinnitus. It may occur in those with or without hearing loss. Although similar, hyperacusis differs from the condition called recruitment.
What is Recruitment?
Recruitment is, quite simply, when sounds become too loud too quickly. An individual might say, “Mom.” No reply. Slightly louder, “Mom!” No reply. Louder still: “Mom!” Mom replies: “Why are you shouting?”
When hyperacusis is present, any sound may be too loud. Recruitment differs in that sounds may appear much louder and may seem distorted and painful. Unlike hyperacusis, recruitment always occurs with sensorineural hearing loss.
Patients frequently experience inner ear pain or a pressure feeling in the ears with hyperacusis. A feeling of pressure or fullness in the ears is similar to the sensation when descending in an airplane. If left untreated, hyperacusis can adversely affect many different areas of one’s life: career, relationships, friendships, and peace of mind. It may be so debilitating that patients wear headphones or earplugs in public and necessitate a complete change in lifestyle from the patient. Unfortunately, this coping mechanism makes the situation worse over time.
Misophonia is an emotional reaction, typically, to soft sounds. When an individual hears certain sounds, (chewing, sniffing, fingernails tapping a keyboard) a powerful emotional reaction, commonly anger, ensues. The sound does not need to be loud to trigger symptoms.
Unlike hyperacusis, a person with misophonia routinely has excellent hearing. It is not a loudness sensitivity problem, but an emotional and physiological reaction to particular sounds.
In normal hearing, when sound waves are received in the brain, the meaning of the sound is processed and then it responds accordingly.
The misophonic reaction however, appears to be an involuntary physical and emotional reflex caused by the sound.
People who suffer with misophonia often report that they believe other people are intentionally making the sounds to annoy them. However, once some time has been spent away from the source of the sound, they admit that their initial thoughts were probably inaccurate.
Doctors aren't sure what causes misophonia. The latest research suggests it may be part physical and part mental. The disease is still regarded as new and as such, the condition is not known to many physicians and there is no agreement on classification.
Some individuals report signs as early as nine years of age. Misophonia seems more prevalent with females and occurs rapidly, most often when they are unable to escape the offending sound, like at the dinner table, in a vehicle, or even when trying to sleep. Without treatment, people find it hard to deal with their misophonia. Symptoms get worse, which leads to greater consequences for the individual’s life.
If you feel like you or a loved one is suffering from hyperacusis, recruitment, or misophonia, arrange an appointment with us immediately.