See the latest news out of theUniversity Medical Center Göttingen in Germany. There, researchers have found a way to supercharge cochlear implants – cutting-edge hearing aids – by converginggene therapy and tiny light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
Researchers are calling this relatively new science”optogenetics” – the use of light and lasers in genetics.
Earwax, known as Cerumen, is a yellowish waxy secretion in the ear canal of humans and other mammals. The skin of the outer part of the canal has special glands that produce earwax. It provides protection for the skin of the human ear canal, assists in cleaning and lubrication, and also provides some protection against bacteria, fungi, insects and water.
Some people are prone to produce too much earwax. Still, excess wax doesn’t automatically lead to blockage. In fact, the most common cause of earwax blockage is at-home removal. Using cotton swabs, bobby pins, or other objects in your ear canal can also push wax deeper, creating a blockage. If the wax is very soft and you gently rotate the Q tip when inserting it, you might be successful. But, if the wax is hard, you probably will just push it in deeper. Some Doctors use hydrogen peroxide to soften hard wax to make the removal easier.
You’re also more likely to have wax buildup if you frequently use earphones, which can inadvertently prevent earwax from coming out of the ear canals and cause blockages.
The appearance of earwax varies from light yellow to dark brown. Darker colors do not necessarily indicate that there is a blockage.
Signs of earwax buildup include:
sudden or partial hearing loss, which is usually temporary
tinnitus, which is a ringing, hissing or buzzing in the ear
a feeling of fullness in the ear
earache (can also be caused by a middle ear infection)
Un-removed (impacted) earwax buildup can lead to infection. Contact your doctor if you experience the symptoms of infection, such as:
severe pain in your ear
pain in your ear that does not go away
drainage from your ear canal
persistent hearing loss
an unusual foul odor coming from your ear (not earwax oder)
It’s important to note that hearing loss, dizziness, and earaches also have many other causes. You should see your doctor if any of these symptoms are frequent. A full medical evaluation can help determine whether the problem is due to excess earwax or another health issue entirely.
Earwax in Children
Children, like adults, naturally produce earwax. While it may be tempting to remove the wax, doing so might damage your child’s ears.
If you suspect your child has earwax buildup or a blockage, it’s best to see a pediatrician. Your child’s doctor may also notice excess wax during regular ear exams and remove it as needed. Also, if you notice your child sticking their finger or other objects in their ear out of irritation, you might want to ask their doctor to check their ears for wax buildup.
Check with your healthcare professional before trying to use these products.
Earwax in Older Adults
Earwax can also be a problem in older adults. Some adults may let wax buildup go until it gets to the point where hearing is obstructed. In fact, most cases of conductive hearing loss in older adults is caused by earwax buildup. This makes sounds seem muffled. Hearing aid use can also contribute to a wax blockage. Cleaning the ear tip/ear mold daily can help to prevent the build-up.
Softening hard Earwax
To soften earwax, you can purchase over-the-counter drops made specifically for that purpose. You can use the following substances:
Another way to remove earwax buildup is by irrigating the ear. You should never attempt to irrigate your ear if you have an ear injury, a perforated ear drum, or have had a medical procedure done on your ear. Irrigation of a ruptured eardrum could cause hearing loss or infection.
Never use products that were made for irrigating your mouth or teeth. They produce more force than your eardrum can safely tolerate.
To properly irrigate your ear, follow the directions provided with an over-the-counter kit, or follow these steps:
Stand or sit with your head in an upright position.
Hold the outside of your ear and pull it gently upward.
With a syringe, send a stream of body-temperature water into your ear. Water that is too cold or too warm can cause dizziness.
Allow water to drain by tipping your head.
It might be necessary to do this several times. If you often deal with wax buildup, routine ear irrigation may help prevent the condition.
Most people don’t need frequent medical help for earwax removal. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic says that a once-a-year cleaning at your annual doctor’s appointment is usually enough to keep blockage at bay.
Warning About Ear Candles
Ear candles may be marketed as a treatment for earwax buildup and other conditions, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns consumers that these products may not be safe.
This treatment is also known as ear coning or thermal auricular therapy. It involves inserting a lit tube of fabric coated in beeswax or paraffin into the ear. The theory is that the suction produced will pull wax out of the ear canal.
According to the FDA, the use of these candles can result in:
burns to the ear and face
injuries from dripping wax
This can be especially dangerous for young children who have trouble being still. The FDA has received reports of injuries and burns, some of which required outpatient surgery. The agency believes such incidents are probably underreported.
Check with your healthcare professional before trying to use these products.
In a few weeks the Super Bowl will be held. Derrick Coleman, fullback and his teammates, the Seattle Seahawks, won the title several years ago.
What makes this so noteworthy is Derrick has worn hearing aids since elementary school. Without them he hears very little. He faced a lot of adversity growing up because of his hearing problems, but that just caused him to work harder on and off the football field.
Coaches love him because they say he pays closer attention to them than most other players and now he has a Super Bowl ring.
He was a former tailback at UCLA who transitioned to fullback at the NFL level, Coleman played in 36 games for the Seahawks after originally joining the the team as a practice-squad signing in December 2012. He played in 12 games for Seattle during the 2013 season, becoming an integral part of special teams units for Seattle’s Super Bowl XLVIII-winning squad.
Coleman drew national attention during the Seahawks’ rise to prominence. He released his autobiography, “No Excuses: Growing Up Deaf and Achieving My Super Bowl Dreams,” in June 2015. Your goals may not be as lofty as winning a Super Bowl, but don’t let hearing loss hold you back no matter what your dreams are.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today announced important steps to better support consumer access to hearing aids. The agency issued a guidance document explaining that it does not intend to enforce the requirement that individuals 18 and up receive a medical evaluation or sign a waiver prior to purchasing most hearing aids. This guidance is effective immediately. Today, the FDA is also announcing its commitment to consider creating a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids that could deliver new, innovative and lower-cost products to millions of consumers.
“Today’s actions are an example of the FDA considering flexible approaches to regulation that encourage innovation in areas of rapid scientific progress,” said FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, M.D. “The guidance will support consumer access to most hearing aids while the FDA takes the steps necessary to propose to modify our regulations to create a category of OTC hearing aids that could help many Americans improve their quality of life through better hearing.”
The FDA has cited that hearing loss affects some 30 million people in the United States and can have a significant impact on communication, social participation and overall health and quality of life. Despite the high prevalence and public health impact of hearing loss, only about one-fifth of people who could benefit from a hearing aid seek intervention.
In October 2015, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued recommendations intended to facilitate hearing aid device innovation, and improve affordability and patient access. Additionally, the FDA and other federal agencies and a consumer advocacy group sponsored a studypublished by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NAS) in June 2016.
Both PCAST and NAS cited FDA regulations regarding conditions for sale as a potential barrier to availability and accessibility of hearing aids, and concluded that the regulation was providing little to no meaningful benefit to patients. PCAST noted that, at present, hearing aids often cost more than $2,000 a piece, and such barriers to distribution channels may limit new entrants who could achieve technological breakthroughs that could offer a greater variety of lower-cost hearing aid options to those suffering from hearing loss. The regulation requires that all prospective hearing aid users have a medical evaluation by a licensed physician to determine the cause of hearing loss and whether medical or surgical treatments would be more appropriate. Individuals 18 and up may waive the requirement for a medical evaluation by signing a waiver statement.
For the guidance document issued today, the FDA considered recommendations from the PCAST and NAS reports and public comments received on a draft guidance issued in 2013, as well as comments received at an April 2016 FDA workshop.
Under the new guidance, the FDA will continue to enforce the medical evaluation requirement for prospective hearing aid users UNDER AGE 18. Under the FDA’s hearing aid regulations, hearing aid labeling must include information about medical conditions that should be evaluated by a licensed physician. In addition, the FDA requires that information and instructions about hearing aids be provided to consumers before any purchase from a licensed hearing aid dispenser.
The guidance is “Immediately in Effect,” which means it is implemented without prior public comment because it presents a less burdensome policy that is consistent with public health. The public can still comment on the guidance, and the FDA will consider all comments received and revise the guidance document as appropriate.
The FDA intends to consider and address PCAST and NAS recommendations regarding a regulatory framework for over-the-counter hearing aids without the requirement for consultation with a credentialed dispenser. The agency is committed to seeking additional public input before proposing such an approach.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency is also responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
Most people tend to become less outgoing as they age, a new study from the University of Gothenburg shows, indicating this change is more apparent in those suffering from hearing loss.
Researchers studied 400 individuals 80-98 years old over the course of six years. Subjects were tested for mental and physical prowess every two years, including personality characteristics such as emotional stability and extra-version. Results indicated that even if emotional stability stayed the same during the study period, participants became less outgoing.
Researchers could not connect the changes to most physical or cognitive impairments, or to difficulty finding social activities. Hearing loss was the only thing linked to reduced extra-version, and use of Hearing Aids did not affect this link — indicating to researchers that providing support in the use of such aids is key.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time a link between hearing and personality changes has been established in longitudinal studies…. If the perceived quality of social interaction goes down, it may eventually affect whether and how we relate to others,” said Anne Ingeborg Berg, PhD, licensed psychologist and researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg.
“Our previous studies have shown that outgoing individuals are happier with their lives. It is hypothesized that an outgoing personality reflects a positive approach to life, but it also probably shows how important it is for most people to share both joy and sadness with others,” she added.
What is the #1 cause of problems with hearing aids?
In fact, what can cause your hearing aid to stop working?
Earwax ruins hearing aids more than anything. There’s not a close second.
The Ear wax migrates up the sound channel tube to the speaker (receiver) and gradually disables it.
But, you can do something about it. Many manufacturers offer WAX GUARDS to place at the end of the ear mold, RIC, or Open Fit tube/tip. They quickly plug up for many people and are then replaced. Another solution that has been used for decades (lasts longer than the Wax Guards) is Lambs Wool.
You simply insert a very small amount in the end of the tube and if it gets plugged, you discard it or clean it in Hydrogen Peroxide and after it dries, you replace it. Don’t pack the Lambs Wool too tight, or it will filter and reduces the sound volume. Of course the WAX GUARDS also slightly reduce some of the sound transmission. But it is good insurance against Ear Wax damaging your hearing aid.
Many health conditions can cause or worsen tinnitus.
A common cause of tinnitus is inner ear hair-cell damage. There are about 30,000 hair-cells in a healthy inner-ear. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in a liquid in relation to the pressure changes of sound waves, in the air. This vibration triggers ear hair-cells to release an electrical signal through a nerve from your ear (auditory nerve) to your brain. Your brain interprets these signals as sound.
If the hair-cells inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can “leak” random, or constant electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus. These signals are constant in some people and irregular in others. The hair-cells are located in a fluid inside a bony shell called the Cochlea.The hair-cells respond to low, middle or high pitch vibrations, depending on their size and location inside the shell, which is located deep inside your head.
Other ear problems can cause Tinnitus, such as: chronic health conditions, and injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in your ear or the hearing center in your brain.
Common causes of tinnitus
Tinnitus may be also caused by one of these conditions:
Age-related hearing loss. For many people, hearing worsens with age, usually starting by age 60. Hearing loss can cause tinnitus. The medical term for this type of hearing loss is presbycusis.
Exposure to loud noise. Loud noises, such as from heavy equipment, chain saws, weed-wackers, leaf blowers, and firearms, flying aircraft and motorcycles are common sources of noise-related hearing loss. Portable music devices, such as MP3 players or iPods, also can cause noise-related hearing loss when played loudly for long periods. Tinnitus caused by short-term exposure, such as attending a loud concert, usually goes away; long-term exposure to loud sound can cause permanent damage.
Earwax blockage. Earwax protects your ear canal by trapping dirt and slowing the growth of bacteria. When too much earwax accumulates, becoming too hard to wash away naturally, it can block the ear canal causing hearing loss or irritation of the eardrum, which can lead to tinnitus.
Ear bone changes. Stiffening of the bones in your middle ear, or a bony growth around the Stapes (otosclerosis) may affect your hearing and cause tinnitus. This condition, caused by abnormal bone growth, tends to run in families.
Other causes of tinnitus
Some other causes of tinnitus are less common, including:
Meniere’s disease. Tinnitus can be an early indicator of Meniere’s disease, an inner ear disorder that may be caused by abnormal inner ear fluid pressure.
TMJ disorders. Problems with the temporo-mandibular joint, the joint on each side of your head in front of your ears, where your lower jawbone meets your skull, can cause tinnitus.
Head injuries or neck injuries. Head or neck injury can affect the inner ear, hearing nerves or brain function linked to hearing. Such injuries usually cause tinnitus in only one ear.
Acoustic neuroma. This noncancerous (benign) tumor develops on the cranial nerve that runs from your brain to your inner ear and controls your balance and hearing. Also called vestibular schwannoma, this condition generally causes tinnitus in only one ear.
Blood vessel disorders linked to tinnitus
In rare cases, tinnitus is caused by a blood vessel disorder. This type of tinnitus is called pulsatile tinnitus. These causes may include:
Atherosclerosis. With age and buildup of cholesterol and other deposits, major blood vessels close to your middle and inner ear lose some of their elasticity — the ability to flex or expand slightly with each heartbeat. That causes blood flow to become more forceful, making it easier for your ear to detect the beats. You can generally hear this type of tinnitus in both ears.
Head and neck tumors. A tumor that presses on blood vessels in your head or neck (vascular neoplasm) can cause tinnitus and other symptoms.
High blood pressure. Hypertension and factors that increase blood pressure, such as stress, alcohol and caffeine, can make tinnitus more noticeable.
Turbulent neck blood flow. Narrowing or kinking in a neck artery (carotid artery) or vein in your neck (jugular vein) can cause turbulent, irregular blood flow, leading to tinnitus.
Malformation of capillaries. A condition called arterio-venous malformation (AVM), abnormal connections between arteries and veins, can result in tinnitus. This type of tinnitus usually occurs in only one ear.
Medications that can cause tinnitus
Many medications may cause or worsen tinnitus. Generally, the higher the dose of these medications, the worse tinnitus becomes. Often the unwanted noise disappears when you stop using these drugs. Medications known to cause or worsen tinnitus include:
Antibiotics, including polymyxin B, erythromycin, vancomycin and neomycin
Cancer medications, including mechlorethamine and vincristine
Water pills (diuretics), such as bumetanide, ethacrynic acid or furosemide
Quinine medications used for malaria or other health conditions
Some antidepressants may worsen tinnitus
Aspirin taken in uncommonly high doses (usually 12 or more a day)
Anyone can experience tinnitus, but the following factors may increase your risk:
Loud noise exposure. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can damage the tiny sensory hair cells in your inner ear that transmit sound to your brain. People who work in noisy environments — such as factory and construction workers, musicians, and soldiers — are particularly at risk.
Age. As you age, the number of functioning nerve fibers in your inner ears declines, possibly causing hearing problems often associated with tinnitus.
Gender. Men are more likely to experience tinnitus, probably due to more noise exposure.
Smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of developing tinnitus.
Cardiovascular problems. Conditions that affect your blood flow, such as high blood pressure or narrowed arteries (atherosclerosis), can increase your risk of tinnitus.
Tinnitus may significantly affect your quality of life. Although it may affect people differently.
If you have tinnitus, you also may experience:
Anxiety and irritability
Treating these conditions may not affect tinnitus directly, but it may help you feel better. In some cases, an exact cause of tinnitus may never be found.
Background noise is undesired noise that competes with some thing or someone that you want to hear.
You know that if you get close to the sound source and face it, you will hear better. Cupping your hand behind your ear helps, also. You can ask the person to speak louder. But some times the noise is just too loud and overcomes what you want to hear.
If the sound you want to hear is a TV or other remote sound source, you can turn up the volume, unless it annoys others in the room. Another solution is to get a wired or wireless device with independent control that is connected to your hearing aid or independent speakers that are in or close to your ears.
Hearing aid manufacturers began providing a solution to this problem in 1958 when Maico Hearing Aid Co. introduced behind ear hearing aids with a DIRECTIONAL MICROPHONE It was actually 2 microphones, in one hearing aid. The one facing forward was amplified more that the rear facing microphone. So the direction that you faced was always louder than the sounds coming from behind. Today, they are still optionally available and with a variety of Directional reception patterns.
There are many new advances to provide improved hearing aid use in noise, such as: LAYERED NOISE REDUCTION , that reduces noise when speech is not present, WDRC wide range compression, selectable time constant modes, “Look-ahead Detection” to reduce loud impulse noises, built-in programmable choices for different noisy environments, T Coil for noiseless phone use, Etc.
All of these methods are very helpful, except if the ear canal is not sealed by an ear mold, the outsidesounds can leak in to the ear drum and compete with the desired amplified sound. That is why the best hearing aid can fail in a noisy environment, unless it has a well-fitted custom ear mold. Many studies have been done that demonstrates this problem and it’s ear mold solution, to keep uncontrolled noise out of the ear. They work just as you make ear plugs to keep out unwanted noise when sleeping, flying, shooting, etc.
Now, you (THE PUBLIC) or some professional hearing aid dispensers can make a 10 minute comfortable, inconspicuous, custom ear mold by using our DIY ear mold material. It can be modified to suit each individual hearing loss. They are available in several different skin colors and all at a VERY LOW COST. See the MENU for ear mold kits on this site for different types of hearing aids.
OPEN FIT and Receiver in the Canal (RIC)hearing aid users almost always begin with a fitting of DOMES (tube tips). Earmolds are standard and necessary for Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aids, but RIC / OPEN FIT hearing aids come with a kit of domes of different shapes and sizes to try. How does a provider or consumer decide when to use the domes and when to select earmolds (Ear Molds) instead?
The answer is based on a number of factors, all of which are dependent on the patient. Several things should be considered before making a decision to purchase the custom fit earmolds. The first thing a hearing aid provider will do is to try the different shapes and sizes of domes available for the OPEN FIT or RIC receivers. Many of the domes are now made to work with different sized ear canals and to prevent feedback for even severe and profound losses.
Is the fit is comfortable? Is there occlusion? Is there feedback? Does it slip out of ear? The provider knows that all ear canals are created differently, so what works for a patient’s left ear might not be the same size or shape that works in the right ear.
If a patient experiences discomfort, or sore ears, trouble in noisy locations, slipping out of ear when using the standard domes, a custom mold may be necessary. If the patient’s ear canal; curves severely, has had surgery, or is very narrow, is a child, it might not be possible to get a good fit unless he/she gets a custom made ear mold If the texture of the ear canal is soft or flaccid, a mold of a harder material (like acrylic) is normally purchased. If the canal is very rigid, they will usually select a softer material (like silicone rubber) that will seal more easily against the canal. Does the patient complain of occlusion (hollow sound) with the stock domes? If so, a custom earmold with venting will solve the problem, or a deeper earmold that exits very close to the ear drum. Another very common problem is ear wax plugging the sound opening. An earmold can solve this problem when using OPEN FIT which have very small sound Slim tubes and openings.
I have experienced and solved these problems, personally as a hearing aid user, during the last 50 years. I also have been a hearing aid provider, manufacturer and earmold lab owner. I was the first to invent/produce soft SILICONE RUBBER earmolds in 1965, because of my dissatisfaction with hard earmolds. So my experience is not just learned in school, but also in the REAL WORLD. I have worn flexible, comfortable silicone rubber earmolds ever since.
So when is the right time to choose an earmold? Because ear canals are not all created equal, so there is not a clear cut answer. Do you have any problems with discomfort, hearing in noisy locations, or does the dome/ tube slip out of position? A well fitted earmold can solve all of these problems.
DISCOMFORT: ear canals are not round and vary in shape from the outside (tragus) to the ear drum (tympanic membrane). So when you place a round Dome in the canal, it presses against the narrow width area and makes little or no contact in the vertical area. Studies have shown there is better hearing when the tip is very close to the ear drum and yet most of the fittings are shallow. There is also better fidelity, volume and reduction in the occlusion effect (hollow sound). You can generally go deeper with an OPEN FIT than with RIC hearing aids, because of the larger diameter of the Receiver on the end of the RIC Slim Tube. A well fitting Silicone Rubber earmold provides comfort and solves the other problems.
TROUBLE HEARING IN NOISY LOCATIONS: When the Dome allows background noise to leak past the Dome, the hearing aid cannot control that un-amplified sound. The solution is a sealed earmold with deep penetration that prevents the leakage and occlusion, so there is no need for a vent. The best hearing aid cannot control that noise that leaks in. The important thing is to place the tip of the mold close to the ear drum, as shown in studies.
DOME SLIPPING OUT OF THE EAR: This is a very common problem. Manufacturers have tried to prevent this problem with several domes in a row, with limited success. Ear discomfort and problems in noise can still persist. An underlying problem is the movement of the jaw (mandibular motion) which pressing up under the canal pushing the domes out of their normal position. Another dangerous problem is the hearing aid falling off the ear and getting damaged.
HEARING AID FEEDBACK (whistling): If you have persistent or intermittent FEEDBACK and you have tried all the usual domes, then a custom earmold is the logical solution. I have been able to fit all my patients with a flexible silicone rubber earmold. Not all silicone molds work as well. Some are too soft and are very difficult to insert in the ear. I have severe hearing los and very thin, soft ear canals, so I apply a thin film of non allergic face cream to the earmold, avoiding the tip opening. This not only eases insertion and removal, but it also helps prevent feedback.
You don’t need to put up with these problems if you take advantage of the modern solutions of HCPB CUSTOM, LOWEST COST, MEDICAL GRADE SILICONE RUBBER EARMOLDS, which are available on this site..
The most important thing is to achieve hearing success with your OPEN FIT/RIC and BTE hearing aid fittings.
Many people cringe when they hear the sound of nails on a chalkboard. This reaction, which can feel almost physically painful, gives an example of what people living with misophonia deal with every day.
Misophonia means “hatred of sound,” and it’s a condition in which normal, everyday noises cause extreme emotional and even physical distress. The sound of a person chewing, breathing or yawning may act as a trigger.
Other often-intolerable sounds to people with misophonia include the sound of someone fidgeting or tapping their fingers, but virtually any noise — from dripping water to crinkling plastic — can lead to significant discomfort.
Those Affected by Misophonia Often Suffer in Silence
It was only relatively recently — around 2000 — that misophonia was given a name. Husband-and-wife research team Margaret and Pawel Jastreboff reportedly coined the term misophonia,1 which is sometimes referred to as “mastication rage”2 as well as selective sound sensitivity syndrome.
In 2013, a study involving 42 people with misophonia revealed that many similar symptoms and experiences were shared among the group.3 For instance, the triggering stimuli were all sounds produced by humans.
Sounds made by animals did not typically cause distress, nor did sounds made by the patients themselves.
The most offensive sounds included:
Eating-related sounds like lip smacking
Loud breathing or nose sounds
Typing on a keyboard or pen-clicking
In some cases, even watching a visual trigger, such as someone eating or rocking their leg, was enough to trigger misophonia symptoms. Negative reactions were felt immediately upon witnessing the trigger. This included:
Anger (with some patients becoming verbally or physically aggressive as a result)
Patients reported feeling a loss of self-control. They knew their aggressive reactions and feelings of disgust toward the noises were excessive and unreasonable, but felt they could not help it.
As a result, all of the participants said they would actively avoid triggers by wearing headsets or earplugs or avoiding social situations.
In addition to causing social isolation, many people with misophonia feel daily stress because they’re anticipating coming into contact with a trigger. (Misophonia is believed to be distinctly different from phonophobia, which is a fear of loud noises.)
What Causes Misophonia?
Misophonia is not related to a problem with your ears but rather is related to how sound affects your brain. The Jastreboffs described it as an “abnormally strong reaction … of the autonomic and limbic systems resulting from enhanced connections between the auditory and limbic systems.”4 They continued:
“Mechanisms of misophonia could involve enhancement of the functional links between the auditory and limbic systems, both at the cognitive and subconscious levels.
Alternatively, tonic high level of activation of the limbic and autonomic nervous systems may result in strong behavioral reactions to moderate sounds.”
People with misophonia have described that symptoms began during childhood in association with disgust felt when they heard family members chewing (the average age of onset is 13).
Some have also noted that people with misophonia tend to show traits of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD). The definitive underlying causes of misophonia remain a mystery, however. Researchers wrote in PLOS One:5
“One can imagine a process of recurrent conditioning following these repetitive annoying events that eventually results in misophonic symptoms or avoidant behaviour.
… Another hypothesis is that OCPD predisposes to misophonia … there appears to be an obsessional part, the focus and preoccupation on a particular sound, and an impulsive part, the urge to perform an aggressive action.
Both aspects should optimally be explained within one single causal model, which currently is too ambitious.”
Tinnitus, Misophonia and Hyperacusis May Be Related Conditions
Researchers are in the process of teasing out what appears to be a complex relationship between misophonia and its “sibling” conditions: tinnitus and hyperacusis.6
Tinnitus, or chronic ringing in your ears, is becoming increasingly common in young people (where it was once considered primarily a condition in those 50 years or older). Among youth, those with tinnitus had significantly reduced tolerance for loud noise and tended to be more protective of their hearing.
Reduced sound level tolerance is a sign of damage to the auditory nerves because, when nerves used to process sound are damaged, it prompts brain cells to increase their sensitivity to noise, essentially making sounds seem louder than they are.7
Hyperacusis, meanwhile, is reduced tolerance to sound in which a person feels physical discomfort when exposed to some sounds. Research conducted by the Jastreboffs suggests hyperacusis and tinnitus often co-exist. They noted, “Most frequently, significantly decreased sound tolerance results from a combination of hyperacusis and misophonia/phonophobia.”8
The causes of hyperacusis are unknown, but it could be due to functional changes within the central nervous system as well as increased anxiety or emotional response to sound.9 Hyperacusis has also been linked to exposure to certain sounds, head injury,stress and certain medications.10
Is There Help for Misophonia and Hyperacusis Sufferers?
Many misophonia patients try to live with their symptoms by lessening exposures to offensive noises. You can try wearing earplugs or headphones to tune out sounds, for instance. There are also hearing-aid-like devices that create a white-noise sound that may help reduce your reactions to sounds.
Psychological counseling and sound therapy are often recommended. The latter is often used for tinnitus (tinnitus retraining therapy) and may also work for other forms of decreased sound tolerance.
The idea behind sound therapy is to turn the offending sounds into neutral stimuli so they no longer provoke a negative response.11 In the case of hyperacusis, many of those affected live with the condition by wearing earplugs. This may actually backfire, however, by making your auditory system even more sensitive to noise, worsening hyperacusis.12
Some experts recommend a desensitization approach like tinnitus retraining therapy for hyperacusis. The therapy involves exposing you to a variety of sounds (in different frequencies, durations and volumes) so that ultimately your reaction to them lessens. According to the Jastreboffs, desensitization therapy alone will not relieve symptoms of misophonia.
For misophonia relief they recommend a different approach — “systematic exposure to sounds, associated with a pleasant situation, with gradually increasing sound levels.”13
If you struggle with misophonia, hyperacusis, or any sensitivity to sound, perhaps the greatest relief of all will come from knowing you’re not alone. There are many support groups available around the U.S., and if you can’t find one to attend in-person you can join in a discussion with other misophonia sufferers online.
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