Sensitivity to Sounds: What You Should Know

Sometimes certain sounds can be unpleasant for both people with hearing loss and those with normal hearing. The fact is, that some people have higher sensitivity to certain sounds than others. Most people react negatively to extremely loud noise or very sharp sounds, but others can find normal, everyday sounds to be prodigious.

Sensitivity to sound can happen in people with certain types of hearing loss, as well as people who experience tinnitus. In this blog article, we will help you understand the different types of sound sensitivity. By understanding why you have sensitive hearing, you can take steps to treat the issue (if necessary). Having your hearing assessed by a hearing care professional will help you determine all this and more.

What are the Different Types of Sound Sensitivity?

Sensitivity to Loud Noises

As most of us know, very loud noises are typically uncomfortable for people with normal hearing. Noises within a frequency range of 2,000 to 5,000 Hz are known to be particularly difficult to listen to. (Source) Any noise that is over 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, and when this happens, it would make sense that we experience these sounds as “unpleasant” sounds. In instances like these, most of us will likely move away from the noisy environment or lower the volume in order to protect our hearing function from exposure to the loud sounds. This is the most common type of sensitivity.

Click the following to learn more about Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.

Hyperacusis

Noises of up to 85-95 decibels can be tolerated by people with healthy hearing before they experience sensitivity, but in instances of hyperacusis, however, this tolerance to noise is significantly lowered. Hyperacusis is a highly debilitating and rare hearing disorder characterized by an increased sensitivity to certain frequencies and volume ranges of sound (a collapsed tolerance to usual environmental sound). (Source) Treatment for hyperacusis includes the use of hearing aids. Hearing aids can help minimize the impact of everyday sounds and background noise and manage the symptoms of hyperacusis.

Hypersensitive Hearing

Hypersensitivity to certain sounds is not uncommon. Normally, people are hypersensitive to sounds above a specific frequency; this may vary from person to person. Depending on the severity, everyday sounds and background noise can be very excruciating. This type of sensitivity to noise is commonly treated with auditory integration therapy which refers to a process that helps remove frequencies to which an individual demonstrates hypersensitivities thus reducing the predictability of auditory patterns.

Misophonia

People with misophonia have an intense dislike of sound. Unlike other sound sensitivities, misophonia isn’t limited to loud or high-pitched. Matter of fact, soft sounds can often be the most common triggers for people with misophonia. Sound therapy is often used to treat misophonia, although some people find that masking devices and white noise can help them to cope with exposure to noise more effectively.

Treating Sensitivity to Sounds

Wearing the right hearing aids can minimize your sensitivity to sounds and improve your hearing function. To ensure your sensitivity to sounds is treated appropriately, it is important to seek advice from a qualified hearing care professional. By consulting an audiologist, for example, you can obtain a comprehensive diagnosis and understand exactly what is causing your hearing sensitivity and therefore treat it accordingly.

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