How Do You Treat Hyperacusis?

How Do You Treat Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis occurs when everyday sounds seem louder than usual. It is not to be confused with misophonia or phonophobia. Misophonia is categorized by sounds making people angry, and phonophobia is categorized by sounds making people anxious.

Hyperacusis’s symptoms are sometimes painful and can be caused by typical sounds such as:

  • Someone speaking
  • The radio
  • A car engine
  • Keys jingling in someone’s pocket

Hyperacusis can develop over time or have a sudden onset. It can cause significant stress in people who suffer from it, and there is no surgical or proven cure for its symptoms. However, there are treatment methods that help patients cope with hyperacusis long-term.

This blog focuses primarily on what those treatments are and how patients can cope better with their symptoms. If you or someone you know suffers from hyperacusis, continue reading to discover what you can do to get back to living the life you want.

What Does Hyperacusis Mean?

Hyperacusis definitions vary depending on the source. By its most basic definition, hyperacusis is an increased sensitivity to sound that wouldn’t trouble the average person. Phonophobia and misophonia intermix with hyperacusis, but they are not the same thing.

Even though they are different, hyperacusis, misophonia, and phonophobia intermix. For example, neurologists use phonophobia to describe hyperacusis in people with migraines. Misophonia differs from hyperacusis because misophonia describes an irritation toward a specific sound, whereas hyperacusis is an overarching term used to describe sensitivity.

Hyperacusis is a rare condition affecting 2-8% of the population. Most experts split it into four categories: loudness, annoyance, fear, and pain. People sometimes refer to loudness hyperacusis as “supersonic hearing,” which isn’t necessarily negative. People with loudness hyperacusis hear softer sounds than those with normal hearing. For example, people with superior canal dehiscence (SCD)  can hear internal noises, such as their eyes moving. The latter two hyperacusis types describe patients’ emotional responses to their hyperacusis.

Treatment for Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis can be cured if caused by specific conditions such as Lyme disease, migraines, or a head injury.  Even if you don’t have an identifiable underlying cause, there are plenty of treatment options to mitigate your sensitivity to everyday sounds. Examples of said treatment options include:

  • Sound therapy to reacclimate to everyday sounds, which involves wearing earpieces that produce white noise.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a psychological therapy method that changes how you approach your hyperacusis and reduces your anxiety surrounding hyperacusis.

Retraining Therapy

Retraining therapy uses counseling and acoustic therapy to reduce patients’ hyperacusis reactions. The goal of retraining therapy is to habituate patient sensitivity to certain sounds. By regularly exposing patients to specific sounds, they can become comfortable with those sounds and lessen their responses.

In addition to sound therapy, counseling can help patients cope with their symptoms.  When combined effectively, patient sensitivity decreases, and they can carry on with their everyday life without experiencing heightened levels of depression, insomnia, and anxiety.

Sound Generators

Sound generators use music or other noises produced by a body-worn system like a hearing aid to produce frequent, steady, gentle sounds. Sound generators attempt to retrain the auditory nerves by exposing them to low-level noises for extended periods. This decreased sensitivity to low-level noise carries over into everyday life and allows people to experience environmental sounds as they should be. This treatment method is mostly successful, but it takes anywhere from three months to two years to take effect.

Experts do not recommend wearing earplugs consistently to guise hyperacusis. Frequent blocking of the ears can further alter the brain’s loudness calibration and restrict its comfort range.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

CBT is a psychological treatment method that effectively treats mental ailments such as depression, anxiety, addiction, marital problems, and eating disorders. Ample research suggests that CBT leads to significant improvements in quality of life, and it is widely accepted as one of the most effective mental treatments used today.

Hyperacusis CBT aims for habituation, which means people become comfortable with their sound sensitivity level. In addition to sound habituation, CBT treats anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Not only do these disorders cause patients distress, but they also inhibit the habituation process.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Steps-

  1. Health Education: There are some common misconceptions about hyperacusis that can make it difficult for those who seek correct treatment options. Generally, these misconceptions stem from misinformed medical professionals. That’s why CBT aims to first educate the patient about tinnitus.
  2. Relaxation Training: The second aspect of CBT is approaching stress, anxiety, and anger, which are all common symptoms of hyperacusis. Evidence supports the idea that these negative thought patterns exacerbate hyperacusis’s negative aspects. Using Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) and diaphragmatic breathing techniques induce relaxed states throughout the day.
  3. Cognitive Therapy- Cognitive therapy traces thought patterns so the individual can discover what is real and what is not. It forces the patient to honestly and objectively examine their hyperacusis case and accept the disorder’s long-term aspects. Patients often misunderstand hyperacusis and create disaster scenarios that cause them to obsess about their condition. These dysfunctional thought patterns sink patients further into adverse outcomes such as depression and anxiety. Cognitive therapy teaches patients to adopt a realistic approach to their situation.
  4. Exposure/Mindfulness- Exposureis a reliable mental health treatment that aims to expose and counsel individuals through their phobias in a controlled environment. Exposure utilizes relaxation techniques for their bodies and gradually introduces patients to noises that would typically cause distress. The process challenges patients at first, but eventually, people achieve acceptance and habituation.

Finding Success With Hyperacusis Treatments

More often than not, hyperacusis treatment aims at accepting your sensitivity to particular noises. Whether through sound generators, retraining therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy, hyperacusis treatments try to get patients to face hyperacusis head-on in a controlled, strategic manner.  If you have hyperacusis and you’ve been looking for ways to improve how you cope with it, these methods are likely to aid you in your journey to acceptance.

Read More: How Can a Power of Attorney Document Help You?


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here