You know that it can be difficult to get your partner’s attention if they have neglected hearing loss. First, you try to use their name. You say “Greg”, but you get no answer because you used an indoor volume level. You try increasing your volume and saying Greg’s name again but he still doesn’t respond. So finally, you shout.
Well this time Greg hears you and grouchily asks what you’re shouting for.
It’s not just stubbornness and impatience that create this interaction. People with hearing loss frequently report hypersensitivity to loud sound. So it makes sense that Greg gets aggravated when you shout his name after he continually fails to hear you when you talk to him at a normal volume.
Can loud sounds seem louder with hearing loss?
So, hearing loss can be sort of peculiar. The vast majority of time, you’ll hear less and less, particularly if your hearing loss remains unaddressed. But every now and then, you’ll watch a Michael Bay movie, or be talking with someone, or be having dinner in a restaurant, and things will get really loud. So loud that it can get uncomfortable. Maybe it’s someone shouting to get your attention or one of the explosions in the newest Transformers movie, it just becomes really loud really fast.
And you’ll think: What’s causing this sensitivity to loud noise?
Which can also make you feel a little aggravated, honestly. Many individuals who experience this will feel like they’re going mad. They have a hard time identifying how loud things are. Imagine, all of your friends, family, and acquaintances seem to confirm you’re losing your hearing, but you have this sudden sensitivity to loud sound. It feels like a contradiction.
A condition known as auditory recruitment can cause these symptoms. this is how it works:
- The interior of your ears are covered with tiny hairs known as stereocilia. When soundwaves enter into your ears, these hairs vibrate and your brain translates that signal into sounds.
- Damage to these hairs is what brings about age-related sensorineural hearing loss. Loud sounds can damage the hairs over time, and once they are damaged, they are unable to heal. As a result, your hearing becomes less sensitive. Your degree of hearing loss will be progressively more severe the more hairs that are damaged.
- But this process doesn’t occur evenly. There will be a combination of healthy and damaged hairs.
- So when you hear a loud noise, the damaged hairs “recruit” the healthy hairs (hence the name of the condition) to send a warning message to your brain. All of a sudden, all of the stereocilia fire, and everything gets very loud.
Think about it this way: That Michael Bay explosion is loud but everything else is quiet. So it’s going to seem louder, when that Michael Bay explosion occurs, than it normally would.
Sounds a lot like hyperacusis
You may think that these symptoms sound a little familiar. That’s likely because they’re often confused with a condition known as hyperacusis. That confusion is, initially, reasonable. Auditory recruitment is a condition where you have a sensitivity to loud noises, and hyperacusis is a condition where sounds very suddenly get loud.
But here are some significant differences:
- Hyperacusis is not directly related to hearing loss. Auditory recruitment absolutely is.
- Noises that are normal objectively will seem really loud for somebody who has hyperacusis. Think about it like this: When you have auditory recruitment, a shout sounds like a shout; but a whisper could sound like a shout for those who have hyperacusis.
- Hyperacusis is painful. Literally. Feeling pain is common for people with hyperacusis. That’s not necessarily the situation with auditory recruitment.
It’s true that hyperacusis and auditory recruitment have a few similar symptoms. But they are quite different conditions.
Can auditory recruitment be managed?
There isn’t any cure for hearing loss and that’s the bad news. Once your hearing goes, it’s gone. Treating hearing loss early will go a long way to prevent this.
This also is true for auditory recruitment. But here’s the good news, auditory recruitment can be treated successfully. Normally, hearing aids are part of that treatment. And those hearing aids need to be specifically calibrated. That’s why addressing auditory recruitment will nearly always require scheduling an appointment with us.
The precise frequencies of sound that are triggering your auditory recruitment will be identified. Your hearing aids can then be adjusted to diminish that wavelength of sound. It’s a really effective treatment.
Only specific types of hearing aid will be successful. Over-the-counter hearing aids or sound amplifiers, for instance, do not have the required technological sophistication and built-in sensitivity, so they won’t be able to deal with your symptoms.
Make an appointment with us
It’s essential that you recognize that you can get relief from your sensitivity to loud sound. The bonus is that your new hearing aid will make everything sound better.
But it all begins by scheduling an appointment. Lots of people who have hearing loss deal with hypersensitivity to loud sound.
You can get help so call us.