Why are some sounds painful?
Have you ever experienced more irritation, or pain, from hearing loud sounds? This is a common occurrence for some people who have hearing loss. There is a term for this known as, recruitment.
As we age, the delicate hair cells located in our inner ears become weaker. They cannot react to sounds the same way that they used to. This is what causes hearing loss.
Human cells do not diminish evenly. Some hair cells, for example, can still properly function and detect sounds. When volumes become loud enough to hear, the healthy cells are abruptly recruited instead of the dying cells. They react quickly and vigorously. The result can be sound that feels painful.
In a typical case, an individual with hearing loss might not respond to someone who is vying for their attention as they speak in normal or low levels. As the person talks at a louder volume in order to get the hearing impaired individual’s attention, the person with hearing loss may suddenly hear them and have a strong reaction as though they are in pain. They may even shield their ears and ask the person to stop yelling.
A similar symptom is hyperacusis. This is when someone is extremely sensitive to sound. This is different from recruitment because it is not related to sensorineural hearing loss. Some causes of hyperacusis include:
For example, children who have autism and auditory processing disorder could experience sensitivity to sound.
Treatment for hearing loss and recruitment
Recruitment can be treated. A test needs to be conducted in order to get a diagnosis of what is causing someone to be very sensitive to sounds.
If you suffer from hearing loss with recruitment, a good quality pair of hearing aids can be programmed to compress sounds in the particular range that aggravates you. Lower-end hearing aids and hearing amplifiers probably won’t be useful because they do not have as many compression bands that can be tailored to your needs. The result of this is overall poor hearing.
It is very important to have an experienced hearing instrument specialist who can identify recruitment and program your hearing aids for your specific needs.
Recruitment can slowly progress over time. You might notice significant sensitivity to sound even after you wear your hearing aid devices. If this happens, tell your hearing instrument specialist that you experience pain when you hear certain sounds. Some people can be treated with tinnitus retraining therapy.
If you are or have been, experiencing recruitment, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation. Hearing loss that goes untreated increases your social isolation, which is associated with depression and cognitive decline. The right pair of hearing aids can benefit your quality of life, and make you feel more confident.
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