"difficulty tolerating everyday sounds" is putting it mildly
November 10, 2012 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Anyone else with hyperacusis ? Yesterday, I described something I though was just lack-of-sleep induced ear sensitivity and learned I was instead suffering from hyperacusia. (previously)

I believe it was the pyrotechnic noise from my car airbag preventing from physical trouble that triggered it roughly ten years ago. I have no memory of having sound-related problems before that.

I have a medical appointment in ten days but I'm interesting in knowing how fellow hyperacusis-suffering MeFites are dealing with that problem.

Here is briefly what has me almost "going postal" when I experience it. Really deep bass sounds and/or sounds in the high frequencies I cannot anticipate. Nightmare scenario : previously unseen baby somewhere behind me starts to cry without any warning.

I've purchased "blocking nearly all external sounds" earbuds from etymotics for those painful moments in public transportation but are they helpful or harmful ?

I've installed a white noise generator on my smartphone : how helpful do you find it ?

Also how can you describe hyperacusis to people who have no idea what you're going through ? thanks in advance.

To those of you out there suffering from it : "I feel your pain" is, for once, not a metaphor
posted by Baud to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The White Noise app has saved my life on many occasions. I recommend dishwasher or air conditioner - they're magic.

I also have a air purifier in my bedroom- a big one. It makes enough varying sounds that I can convince myself that I'm hearing the purifier and not noises, which helps me. When I lived in a very bad apartment I had two and it was a roar of white noise that fooled me well enough I could pretend the bass vibration was all in my head.

I once made a friend watch the US remake of insomnia - the audio track does some things that, while not in any way comparable to hyperacusis, might give them an idea of the intrusiveness.

I'm partially deaf, so it's fun explaining to people that just because I only hear in one ear it doesn't mean I can't be massively impacted by what I can hear out of the other.
posted by winna at 9:18 AM on November 10, 2012

I used to try to explain to people - family, neighbors, etc - that they were being loud and that I couldn't focus / sleep / study / whatever. I've pretty much given up on that and now I just try to block or avoid the sounds that frustrate me most. Here's what helps me.

- in-ear phones with music and/or white noise
- earplugs
- over-ear headphones over earplugs
- bedphones
- anti-anxiety meds
- fans / ACs / other white noise

In general if I'm less stressed and anxious I'm better able to cope with the frustration, so taking care of yourself, getting decent sleep, exercising and meditating are good things.
posted by bunderful at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2012

I have trouble with noise too and my ears are very sensitive because of ear canal eczema and a poorly healed ruptured eardrum from 10 years ago. I'd never be able to get on any kind of public transportation without noise isolating earphones. Love Etymotics Research, I've got a pair of the mc5 in-ears that work very well. The hf5 are a little smaller, nicer. But they all have good sound. The foam tips block more noise generally, though I may be biased because they fit my ears better. If you have small ear canals, it is worth ordering the small beige foam eartips. They really block noise, not just cover it up. Wearing them takes a bit of getting used to but is well worth it. Hope this helps you feel better about them.
posted by monopas at 11:19 AM on November 10, 2012

My now-boyfriend had this after he started a job in a restaurant and had to listen to clinking dishes in an enclosed kitchen. He went from having no problems to not being able to tolerate loud noises and high-pitched sounds, and our roommate's sister, an audiologist, diagnosed him with hyperacusis. ("Hypercuteness?" I'd say. "No, hyperacusis". He didn't like the sound of that either). He quit that job and went easy on his ears for a few months after and the problem gradually subsided.
posted by custard heart at 7:48 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am starting to get a mild case of this, after listening to a very loud pep band performance for a few minutes. Didn't think exposure that short could tip me off from just normal tinnitus, and I certainly should have worn earplugs either way, but it is what it is.

The scariest part is how murky treatment seems to be. It's bad enough in Internet forums whe it seems people are giving out -- their 2 cents and anecdotal experience that consistently seem to contradict each other. Worse yet are the "professional" treatment options, that all seem to contain a heavy dose of the snake oil that's present in a lot of audiophile gear. Don't now if it is ironic or sad that in either case, the road to aural bliss is all going to be in your head.
posted by Muu at 11:11 PM on November 30, 2012

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