If you've ever sung to a child and had them put their fingers in their ears, you can stop feeling offended. It might not be the quality of your vocals but how loud you were singing that caused the reaction. You see, when the ears sense something is dangerous to hearing, it doesn't send out a pain signal--like when you cut your finger. Instead, it sends out that feeling of discomfort. This feeling can take the form of pressure, unease, or even sensitivity to noise. Basically, when you find a sound disturbing it could be because your ears are trying to tell you something.
Ever wonder why some sounds like nails on a chalkboard cause us to cover our ears and cringe? It might seem like a personality preference, but it is actually a way for your ears to signal you that this sound could be hazardous to hearing. This type of communication is necessary in order for your ears to get across that hearing needs to be protected. This defense can be helpful to the average person, but to a person with hyperacusis, extreme sensitivity to sound, this can be debilitating.
Hyperacusis can happen gradually or all at once. It can be tweaked by stress and environmental factors. Often, but not always, someone with hyperacusis will have hearing loss. It is believed that the pathways that warn about dangerous sounds become hyper vigilant in hyperacusis causing real pain when certain sounds are heard. The video below explains.
There are numerous treatments to help with hyperacusis, including specially made hearing aids that will diminish disturbing frequency while hiring frequencies that need amplification. If you'd like to learn more about treatment for sensitivity to noise, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!