Some people with hearing loss are still irritated by loud noises. In fact, some sounds are more annoying and even painful than before they started experiencing hearing loss. The term for this is auditory recruitment or auditory distortion.
Why are certain Noises too Loud?
When the delicate, auditory hair cells (cilia) deteriorate due to aging or sensorineural hearing loss, they can’t respond to sound waves in the same way they used to. This is when hearing loss occurs.
Cells do not worsen evenly. Some hair cells stay in good condition, while others are over-exposed to sounds and the healthy cells immediately need to replace the dying cells. This can lead to sounds that make people feel distressed.
Generally, what happens is a person who cannot hear clearly does not respond to a person who is trying to speak with them at a normal or low volume. In turn, the speaker will talk much louder and the person with hearing loss will suddenly hear them and react in pain.
Hyperacusis is similar. This is when there is an intensity in someone’s sensitivity to sound. The way it's different from auditory recruitment is that hyperacusis can feel painful, but is not related to hearing loss. For example, a child who has autism and auditory processing disorder may experience sensitivity to specific sounds.
Auditory recruitment can be treated by wearing high-quality hearing aids. A hearing instrument specialist can program the hearing aids to compress sounds for the exact range of noises that irritate you. Hearing amplifiers and cheap hearing aid models won’t be useful because they do not feature adjustable compression bands, which can negatively impact your overall hearing health.
It’s crucial to have an experienced hearing instrument specialist who can recognize recruitment and program your hearing aids accordingly.
Recruitment, just like hearing loss, can gradually occur over a long period of time. Pay attention to whether you notice sensitivity to sound after wearing hearing aids. Tinnitus retraining therapy can give relief to those who suffer from it. Discuss this with your hearing instrument specialist.
Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a complimentary hearing test and consultation with one of our hearing instrument specialists.