First of all, hyperacusis means a low tolerance to sound. It’s derived primarily from some kind of accoustic trauma, head injury, Lyme disease, temporomandibular joint syndrome amongst other causes. It basically results in everyday sounds being perceived as too loud – often to the point of being painful.
Tinnitus is the annoying ringing, buzzing or humming noises in the ear that often accompanies this low tolerance to sound.
Hyperacusis … when does the tinnitus start?
Not all people who suffer from hyperacusis will develop tinnitus right away. The ringing noise in the ears usually appears several months after the initial trauma or even later. It may often lack completely.
The use of ear plugs seems to aggravate tinnitus: you may reduce the external sounds, but the ringing in your head stays. Moreover, the use of ear plugs could also considerably reduce tolerance to sounds, thus aggravating the condition even further.
Tinnitus and hyperacusis: they go together!
Only very few individuals who suffer from hyperacusis don’t develop tinnitus. Although, there are also quite a few people who have one and not the other there is a link between the two conditions.
There are a number of medical conditions that list hyperacusis within the symptoms. That’s why it’s vital that you get a professional medical opinion.
When it comes to treatment, in most cases, the medical approach emphasizes the need to train the mind so that it can make the sound and its perception less intense. Difficult yet possible! Treatment options are similar to those used to treat tinnitus … sound therapy, white noise machines, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) etc. Often the two conditions are treated side by side with the same therapy program.
Cutting off sound is considered an incorrect approach. Most therapists encourage patients to slowly and gently reintegrate sound so that they may increase the tolerance. The same methods are used to alleviate tinnitus and hyperacusis.
Specialists have not reached a final conclusion in relation with the treatment of hyperacusis and the ringing in the ears that usually accompanies it. The counselling available for patients can thus vary from simple informative discussions with the patient to coaching the sufferer towards a better management of the condition.
Family support and influence matter a lot in most cases because they are responsible for creating a positive and optimistic environment for the patient. The person who suffers can easily give up hope and choose to live a life without sounds better than bear with this cocktail of a problem.