Are There Treatments for Hyperacusis?

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

Pain is your body’s method of delivering information. It’s an effective method though not a really enjoyable one. When that megaphone you’re standing near goes too loud, the pain lets you know that major ear damage is happening and you instantly (if you’re smart) cover your ears or remove yourself from that extremely loud environment.

But for about 8-10% of people, quiet sounds can be perceived as painfully loud, despite their measured decibel level. This affliction is known by experts as hyperacusis. It’s a medical term for overly sensitive ears. The symptoms of hyperacusis can be managed but there’s no cure.

Increased sensitivity to sound

Hypersensitivity to sound is known as hyperacusis. Most of the time sounds within a particular frequency trigger episodes of hyperacusis for individuals who suffer from it. Quiet noises will frequently sound very loud. And loud noises seem even louder.

No one’s quite sure what causes hyperacusis, though it is often linked to tinnitus or other hearing issues (and, in some instances, neurological concerns). When it comes to symptoms, intensity, and treatment, there is a noticeable degree of individual variability.

What’s a normal hyperacusis response?

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

  • You might also experience dizziness and difficulty keeping your balance.
  • Your response and pain will be worse the louder the sound is.
  • You will hear a specific sound, a sound that everybody else perceives as quiet, and that sound will seem exceptionally loud to you.
  • You may experience pain and buzzing in your ears (this pain and buzzing could last for days or weeks after you hear the original sound).

Treatments for hyperacusis

When your hyperacusis makes you vulnerable to a wide range of frequencies, the world can seem like a minefield. You never know when a lovely night out will suddenly turn into an audio onslaught that will leave you with ringing ears and a three-day migraine.

That’s why it’s so important to get treatment. There are various treatments available depending on your particular situation and we can help you pick one that’s best for you. The most common options include the following.

Masking devices

A device known as a masking device is one of the most common treatments for hyperacusis. This is a device that can cancel out specific wavelengths. So those offensive frequencies can be eliminated before they get to your ears. You can’t have a hyperacusis episode if you can’t hear the offending sound!


A less state-of-the-art strategy to this general method is earplugs: if all sound is stopped, there’s no chance of a hyperacusis incident. There are certainly some disadvantages to this low tech method. There’s some research that suggests that, over time, the earplugs can throw your hearing ecosystem even further out of whack and make your hyperacusis worse. If you’re considering using earplugs, contact us for a consultation.

Ear retraining

One of the most in-depth approaches to treating hyperacusis is called ear retraining therapy. You’ll use a combination of devices, physical therapy, and emotional therapy to try to change how you respond to particular kinds of sounds. The concept is that you can train yourself to ignore sounds (rather like with tinnitus). Generally, this approach has a good rate of success but depends a great deal on your dedication to the process.

Less common strategies

There are also some less prevalent strategies for managing hyperacusis, such as medications or ear tubes. These approaches are less commonly used, depending on the specialist and the individual, because they have met with mixed success.

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 single best approach to treating hyperacusis, it really depends on finding the best 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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