Why Are My Ears Sensitive to Sound?

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We all have sounds that grate on our ears, for example, nails scraping a chalkboard; but for some people everyday sounds become intolerable. If you have to put cotton in your ears to go to the movie theater or jump when the phone or door bell rings, you may be suffering from sensitivity to loud sounds.

Function

Behind your eardrum are three tiny bones which connect to form a natural mini shock absorber. When loud sound vibrates your eardrum, those tiny bones compress and pump to reduce the sound. This sound shock absorption helps to protect your hearing.

Effects

If your middle ear is damaged, from trauma or surgery; or if you have fluid in your middle ear, from chronic allergies or sinusitis, you can experience sensitivity to sound.

Solution

If your sensitivity to sound keeps you from enjoying activities, consult your physician. Middle ear conditions can be medically treated. If middle ear function is restored, the natural sound absorption can help relieve your sound sensitivity.

Expert Insight

As people lose their hearing they can become more sensitive to loud sound. This phenomenon is called recruitment. When you have hearing loss, the range between your hearing threshold and loud sound narrows, causing you to perceive sound differently. If you suspect hearing loss, ask your physician about having a hearing test.

Considerations

With the advances in digital hearing-aid technology, recruitment can be effectively treated. If you have a hearing loss, hearing aids help by compressing loud noises while amplifying soft sounds to help you hear better.

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