As a journalist, I have covered numerous stories of those suffering from hyperacusis. There is a wide range of sounds that affect hyperacusis patients, however, not all sounds affect each patient. Some patients complain about doors shutting, loud mufflers and birds chirping. Others cannot stand a person’s voice, papers shuffling or that all too familiar beeping sound at the checkout as you shop.
A normal morning for the average person starts with an alarm going off, you shower, dress, get a cup of coffee and maybe even have children to get off to school. For a person diagnosed with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to everyday sounds, it can be quite difficult to walk out the door each morning.
I have asked a group of hyperacusis sufferers to share with us what helps ease that irritability that can build up from all those everyday sounds they are so sensitive too. A large number of people who have hyperacusis do not use an “alarm” on their clock anymore. Instead soothing music played at a comfort volume wakes them. However, each individual case is different. Others prefer their phone on vibrate. While a number of sufferer find even these forms of waking painful.
During the day, some find relief by “masking” a sound with wearing headphones. However, this is a controversial issue as many patients state the use of headphones just make it worse. For some, the sound of running water from the tap is painful so as one’s day just gets started, the discomfort and pain starts too.
Most people cannot imagine going through a day of pain, yet these people have to deal with it every day. Imagine for just a second hearing a sound you cannot stand like “nails on a chalkboard” or a high pitch whistle. Now imagine you have to be around that noise every day – could you do it? What if that sound was a phone ringing?
Let us forget the fact for a moment that some patients with hyperacusis say they cannot use the phone without it causing them some form of discomfort and pain. There is a phone ringing and it just will not stop! It is irritating right.
I tried to hide the pain I was in
One woman stated the everyday sounds were so irritating to her that she had to leave work. It caused her discomfort and pain on top of the sounds of an average workday. She used to take a break, go into the bathroom and do breathing technique just to force herself to get through the work day. She would come back out smile and continue her work.
That woman was “me”. I was afraid of not working. Diagnosed with tinnitus and hyperacusis in April of 2013, the only thing that helped me bear the tinnitus – which was 24/7 ringing in my ears – was working. I knew I had to keep mind busy. Yet the everyday sound of more and more people around me was difficult to deal with. Where I worked could accommodate me only up to a certain point.
Eventually, I was forced into a medical leave; there just was not any place they could put me to deal with my medical condition. Thankful I had years of experience as a writer, marketing and promoting plus administrative skills to back me up. Now I write for a number of companies covering articles on content marketing, do exclusive interviews and write advocacy pieces all in an environment of which I control the sounds around me.
Things you can do to get relief
Sometimes the best thing to do is just to get away from the sound. In fact, doctors recommend that patients with hyperacusis give their ears a break from any sound that causes them pain and rest their ears.
Others enjoy relaxing hobbies like gardening, painting and reading. Let us not forget those oh so comforting long soaks in the tube with soothing music, or a deep tissue massage. Some patients enjoy things like yoga, tai chi and meditation.