You know that it can be difficult to get your partner’s attention if they have untreated hearing loss. Their name is the first thing you try saying. You say “Greg”, but you get no answer because you used an indoor volume level. You try saying Greg’s name a little louder and still nothing. So you resort to shouting.
Well this time Greg hears you and grouchily asks what you’re shouting for.
It’s not just stubbornness and impatience that cause this situation. Individuals with hearing loss often report hypersensitivity to loud sound. And this sensitivity to loud noises can help illustrate why Greg doesn’t hear his name at a normal volume but gets cranky when you shout at him.
Can loud sounds seem louder with hearing loss?
Hearing loss can be a peculiar thing. Usually, hearing loss will cause your hearing to diminish, particularly if it goes untreated. But things can get very loud when you’re out at a busy restaurant or watching a Michael Bay movie. Uncomfortably loud. Maybe the movie gets really loud all of a sudden or someone is yelling to get your attention.
And you’ll wonder why you’re so sensitive to loud noise.
Which can, honestly, put you in a cranky mood. Many individuals will feel like they’re going crazy when they experience this. They have a hard time identifying how loud things are. You have a sudden sensitivity to loud sounds even as your family and friends are pointing out your very obvious hearing loss symptoms. How is that possible?
A condition called auditory recruitment can cause these symptoms. this is how it works:
- There are little hairs, known as stereocilia, covering your inner ear. When soundwaves enter into your ears, these hairs vibrate and your brain converts that signal into sounds.
- Age-related “sensorineural” hearing loss happens as these hairs are damaged. Loud sounds can damage the hairs over time, and once they are damaged, they never heal. Consequently, your hearing becomes less sensitive. The more damaged hairs you have, the less you can hear.
- But this process doesn’t take place evenly. There is always some combination of damaged and healthy hairs.
- So when you hear a loud noise, the impaired hairs “recruit” the healthy hairs (hence the name of the condition) to send an alarmed message to your brain. So, suddenly, everything gets very loud because all of your stereocilia are firing (just like they would with any other loud sound).
Think about it like this: everything is silent except for the Michael Bay explosion. So the Michael Bay explosion will seem louder (and more obnoxious) than it would otherwise!
Isn’t that the same as hyperacusis?
You may think that these symptoms sound a little familiar. That’s likely because they’re typically confused with a condition known as hyperacusis. At first glance, this confusion is understandable. Both conditions can make sounds very loud suddenly.
But there are some key differences:
- While hyperacusis has no link to hearing loss, there is a direct link between auditory recruitment and hearing loss.
- Noises that are normal objectively will seem very loud for somebody who has hyperacusis. Think about it this way: A shout will still sound like a shout when you have auditory recruitment; but a whisper can sound like a shout for those who have hyperacusis.
- Hyperacusis comes with pain. Literally. Most individuals who experience hyperacusis report feeling pain. With auditory recruitment, that’s typically not the case.
It’s true that hyperacusis and auditory recruitment have a few similar symptoms. But they are not the same condition.
Is there any way to treat audio recruitment?
There’s no cure for hearing loss and that’s the bad news. Your hearing will never come back once it’s gone. Managing hearing loss early will go a long way to prevent this.
The same goes for auditory recruitment. Fortunately, there are ways to successfully address auditory recruitment. In most situations, that treatment will include hearing aids. And those hearing aids need to be specifically calibrated. That’s why addressing auditory recruitment will nearly always require making an appointment with us.
The precise frequencies of sound that are causing your auditory recruitment will be determined. Your hearing aids can then be calibrated to diminish that wavelength of sound. It’s sort of like magic, but it’s using science and technology (so, not really like magic at all, but it works really effectively is what we’re trying to convey here).
Only certain types of hearing aid will be successful. Over-the-counter hearing aids or sound amplifiers, for example, do not have the necessary technological sophistication and built-in sensitivity, so they will not be able to address your symptoms.
Make an appointment with us
It’s essential that you recognize that you can find relief from your sensitivity to loud noise. The bonus is that your new hearing aid will make everything sound better.
But scheduling an appointment is the first step. Lots of people who have hearing loss deal with hypersensitivity to loud noise.
You can get help so call us.