Ivan Zamorano

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When Normal Sounds are Painfully LOUD! | Hyperacusis


– In this video, I’m talking about the rare hearing condition
called hyperacusis, coming up. (upbeat music) Hi guys, Cliff Olson, Doctor of Audiology and founder of Applied Hearing
Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona and on this channel I cover
a bunch of hearing related information to help make you
a better informed consumer. So if you’re into that, make sure you hit that subscribe button. And don’t forget to
click the bell to receive a notification every
time I post a new video. Just take a second to imagine
if common every day sounds like a conversation with family or friends or something as simple as closing a door were so uncomfortably loud
that it basically made you try to avoid sounds at all cost. Well this is exactly what it’s like to have a condition called hyperacusis. According to the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association, hyperacusis is an extremely
rare condition that causes some sounds that would
otherwise be considered normal to most people to be
uncomfortably or unbearably loud. The Hyperacusis Network reports that 1 in 50,000
individuals has hyperacusis and 1 in every 1,000
individuals who have tinnitus also have hyperacusis. Just to be clear, hyperacusis is not discomfort
around loud sounds. We would expect you to
have auditory discomfort if you are exposed to loud noise. It is also different from misophonia, which is a strong dislike
for a particular sound such as nails on a chalkboard
or people chewing their food and a condition called phonophobia, which is a fear of a specific sound. When it comes to sound tolerance, a normal human ear can hear
a wide range of sounds, ranging from very soft
sounds like rustling leaves to very loud sounds like a
guitar at a rock concert. You generally realize
that a sound is too loud before it reaches a painful level and that comfortable loudness level varies from person to person. Most individuals with hyperacusis actually have normal hearing, yet they still find
common every day sounds like car engine noise or
clinking dishes in the kitchen or even normal conversational speech to be excessively too loud. One major cause of hyperacusis
is loud noise exposure, usually one that comes in
form of an impact noise like a gunshot or an airbag deployment if you’re in a vehicle accident. A few years ago, a teenage
girl named Cindy Redmond from Wilmington, Delaware
thrust hyperacusis into the national spotlight
when her friend’s stepfather blasted an air horn next to her ear reaching sound levels around 130 decibels. This resulted in debilitating
hyperacusis for Cindy, which prevents her from going to school or even leaving her house
because common every day sounds are so painfully loud
that she compares them to be doing stabbed in
the ear with a knife. She does have a donation page to help find a cure for hyperacusis, which you can find on
hyperacusisresearch.org, which I will have linked in
the description of the video. Now, Cindy’s case was caused
by a sudden impact noise but you can also get hyperacusis if you have steady
state noise for too long of a period of time, therefore,
it is absolutely critical that you wear hearing protection any time that you are in a noisy situation or that you would expect
to encounter noise. While hyperacusis is this oversensitivity to sounds that wouldn’t
necessarily be considered loud, it can cause a variety of
different cascading effects in other areas of your life. In addition to the physical
pain caused by sound, individuals with hyperacusis
can experience fear, anxiety, social isolation,
depression, insomnia, or lack of concentration as a result. For some individuals
suffering from hyperacusis, it may actually get better
on its own over time. But for other individuals,
they may require treatment and some of those treatment
options are as follows. First is sound therapy. Providing gentle auditory stimulation using hearing devices or noise generators could reduce your sensitivity to sounds over the course of time. Second is cognitive behavioral therapy otherwise known as CBT. CBT focuses on restructuring
your negative reactions to hyperacusis since
hyperacusis is so closely tied to anxiety, depression and even PTSD. Other experimental techniques
include biofeedback, other relaxation therapies
and even acupuncture. Treatment for hyperacusis
becomes even more complicated if you’re an individual with hearing loss. This is because you actually
need to boost some sounds in order to hear them but
you can’t boost them too much to where they become uncomfortably loud. In my clinic, I’ve had
surprisingly good success by fitting individuals with
hyperacusis and hearing loss with hearing aids but the way that I do it is I actually fit them occluding earmolds. This is basically when you
block off their ear canal so sound can’t enter it normally. This allows me to control all of the sound that goes into their ear through the hearing devices themselves. By being in complete control of the sound that’s going into their ears, I can actually lower the
maximum potential output of their hearing aids and only give them a little bit of amplification
to soft level sounds and average level sounds. Over the course of one to two years, I typically see their
tolerance of sound increase almost to the point where they don’t have hyperacusis anymore. Because this condition is so rare, I only have a handful of case studies that have actually shown this, but it does give some hope to individuals who do have hyperacusis and
hearing loss at the same time. One treatment option
that is not recommended is the constant use of hearing protection. While this may be a good fix
for a particular circumstance, you do not wanna wear hearing
protection all of the time. This could actually recalibrate your brain’s perception of loudness and even reduce your brain’s
tolerance levels even further. What you really want to have happen is to have your brain learn how to tolerate these sounds again, not just get used to the attenuation that hearing protection provides. No matter what the treatment solution, you should be working with a team of hearing care professionals who are trained and
knowledgeable about hyperacusis. And you have to understand that treatment will ultimately take time. Hyperacusis can be extremely debilitating, but it doesn’t have to
be that way forever. So if you suspect that
you may have hyperacusis, the best thing that you can
do is to see an audiologist to get your hearing evaluated so you can get on the road to treatment to get yourself some relief. That’s it for this video. If you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. If you liked the video, please share it. And if you wanna see other
videos just like this one, go ahead and hit that subscribe button. Also feel free to check out
my website, drcliffaud.com. (upbeat music)

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