Hyperacusis, experienced by approximately 7-15% of the population, occurs when the inner ear is hypersensitive. With Hyperacusis, normals sounds during everyday experiences bother the person a lot. Often times, the uncomfortable feeling felt causes the person to become withdrawn from public places and social interactions.
Hyperacusis can sometimes be confused with Misophonia and Recruitment. Misophonia, however, is when a person is sensitive to a specific sound. Think chalk on a chalk board or dripping water. Recruitment, on the other hand, occurs most often in those with hearing loss. In this instance, once the sound reaches the threshold that a person can hear it, it spikes upward to an uncomfortable level.
To determine if you are experiencing Hyperacusis, patients undergo two tests. At the Silverstein Institute you will receive a questionnaire to determine the severity. The average score of this questionnaire ranges from 35-40 points. Once treatment begins, they expect the score to hopefully lower to approximately 15. The second test is the loudness discomfort level. The normal score, for those not experiencing Hyperacusis, is between 90-100 decibels. Those suffering from Hyperacusis will score below 90 decibels on this test.
There is good news if you have been diagnosed. Dr. Herbert Silverstein invented a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure in which tissue from above the ear is placed below the eardrum. By doing this, the sound waves traveling into the inner ear are dampened, helping to lessen the discomfort felt.
The procedure is a minor surgery, almost painless, and has been completed on around 30 patients already. After the procedure your hearing should stay the same, simply with an increased tolerance for loud sounds. The Silverstein Institute is excited to say that the procedure is now being incorporated into a multi-center study with 6 fellows that they have trained to gather more data in the hopes of continuing to help more patients suffering from Hyperacusis to obtain a better quality of life.
Related Blog: Hyperacusis Treatment Miracle