Can Hyperacusis be Treated?

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

Pain is your body’s way of giving you information. It’s not a terribly enjoyable approach but it can be effective. When your ears begin to feel the pain of a very loud megaphone next to you, you know damage is happening and you can take steps to move further away or at least cover your ears.

But for around 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be detected as painfully loud, despite their measured decibel level. This affliction is known by experts as hyperacusis. This is the medical name for excessively sensitive ears. There’s no cure for hyperacusis, but there are treatments that can help you get a handle on your symptoms.

Heightened sound sensitivity

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

Hyperacusis is commonly associated with tinnitus, hearing problems, and even neurological issues, although no one really knows what actually causes it. When it comes to symptoms, intensity, and treatment, there’s a noticeable degree of personal variability.

What type of response is typical for hyperacusis?

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

  • Everybody else will think a specific sound is quiet but it will sound extremely loud to you.
  • Your response and discomfort will be worse the louder the sound is.
  • After you hear the initial sound, you may have pain and hear buzzing for days or even weeks.
  • Balance issues and dizziness can also be experienced.

Hyperacusis treatment treatment

When your hyperacusis makes you sensitive to a wide assortment of frequencies, the world can seem like a minefield. You never know when a pleasant night out will suddenly become an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and an intense migraine.

That’s why treatment is so crucial. 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

One of the most commonly used treatments for hyperacusis is something called a masking device. While it may sound perfect for Halloween (sorry), in reality, a masking device is a piece of technology that cancels out certain wavelengths of sounds. So those offensive frequencies can be removed before they reach your ears. If you can’t hear the triggering sound, you won’t have a hyperacusis episode.


A less state-of-the-art approach to this basic method is earplugs: you can’t have a hyperacusis attack if you’re unable to hear… well, anything. It’s undoubtedly a low-tech approach, and there are some disadvantages. Your general hearing issues, including hyperacusis, may get worse by using this strategy, according to some evidence. Consult us if you’re thinking about using earplugs.

Ear retraining

An strategy, known as ear retraining therapy, is one of the most thorough hyperacusis treatments. You’ll use a combination 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 disregard sounds (rather like with tinnitus). This process depends on your commitment but usually has a positive rate of success.

Approaches that are less prevalent

There are also some less common methods for treating hyperacusis, like medications or ear tubes. These approaches are less commonly used, depending on the specialist and the individual, because they have delivered mixed results.

A huge difference can come from treatment

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

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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