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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 

Hi all… {sorry about the length} - I’m new to this forum and discussion, and have just spent several hours tracking down behavior I’ve alway felt was normal, yet most others do not exhibit...  I’ve never had ear pain, infection or damage, nor am I aware of any ‘ringing,’ or tinnitus, but I experience sensitivity to both loud and annoying sounds.  As in, the ‘POP’ of my new tires being inflated in a tire shop (2 days ago), and various irritating voices on TV documentaries, and of course, audible chewing[mad]  

But this has seemed normal to me, as well as protecting my hearing with plugs from the tools I use, like chainsaws, roto-tiller, weed-whacker, all of which being industrial models … including a ‘commercial-grade’ vacuum cleaner...  But I also carry 3 ear plugs in the right pocket of every jacket (in case I lose one..), with old film canisters containing several plugs strategically placed in vehicles, computer desk, work bench and travel packs…  

I’m 57, in excellent health and very active.  My last job setting was in both middle and grade school settings in which I would spend a third of my day with plugs in ... cafeteria monitoring, field trip bus duty, escorting autistic students past slamming lockers through wall-to-wall halls, amplified assemblies, gymnasiums … to boys locker room duty - an echo-chamber of audible horror!  Eventually transferred (due to budget cuts) to an entire building full of ..delinquents, where point-blank hollering was both an offense and defence toward students and staff… I resigned.  I’d slip in my plugs when ‘I could,’ and didn’t appear to miss anything - but administrators seriously frowned on that, to the point I’d feel guilty and reluctant to ‘protect myself.’  

I’ve never sought consultation regarding, what to others, often appears ‘my’ ultra-sensitivity to sound, but for the fact I often appear the only person ‘protecting myself,’ this has me wondering…  I do find it handy to put in my plugs while shopping, as ‘store announcements’ often feel punishing.  But I assume most people have varying levels of hearing loss - so most sound systems are cranked up to ‘speak to them.’  Nearly every movie I see at a theater seems far too loud, thus - in go my EP’s.  But in my younger days, I’d do the same at a rock concert!  Just felt it was smart ...if not cool [rolleyes]

Around home, I’ll occasionally be criticized by a daughter for having ‘my music too loud,’ music they actually like…  So if it’s desirable, no problem?  I can fall asleep through 4 CDs worth of rock through headphones during the night -- and have no idea how that happens?  

Another thing, I also seem to have an equal sensitivity to light, especially the ‘flashing breaks’ that have become common between scene changes on TV, and will often wear sunglasses in theaters…  Does all this fit a profile, or sound familiar..?  It’s all stuff I consider abusive, but when so few ‘ordinary people’ either complain or protect themselves, I have to wonder. I’m the guy hunting down the manager of the theater to request they turn down the sound, then get an excited look as in, “Happily!” if it’s too loud for them, too - yet nobody in the place had the sense or guts to do anything about it..?

...Now, it’s those darn seasonal bell-ringers outside every store[bye] [I’m in the US, Oregon] ...and their annoying ear-piercing ringing as you walk by, or it’s amplification off the block and glass buildings they’re surrounded by…  Is this just me? ...or am I turning into an irritated cranky old man..?

I’ll continue reading ...but as I read some from your site to my daughter … she thinks I’ve ‘found my people’ [blushes]

Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #2 
...replying to self...[blushes]

...I just have to add more… after reading about such familiar situations and irritations.  

Went to see a rock group I’ve long loved, bought some ‘up close’ seats.  Took my two daughters and my SO at the time.  My only ‘request/ demand’ was that they protect their ears.  I’d brought cotton (though it’s not much protection, they hadn’t wanted it muffled too much) - and a couple new sets of earplugs, even shown them prior to the show.  

It began early, so we scrambled to our ‘great seats’ ... as full-on screaming at each other was the only way to communicate(!).  I pulled out the cotton and plugs - as each of them gave me angry ‘scoffing’ looks, refusing to take it from me ...I had been discrete...  Even with a new set plugs in - it was punishing…  So much so, I walked out.  Mainly, I was sick over the presumed damage my daughters (late teens) were inflicting on themselves; over my ‘significant other’s’ outright refusal to protect herself; and disgust over one of my favorite rock groups for punishing their fans.

...outside the concrete arena - it was nearly too loud to carry on a phone conversation!  Further out, uniformed police officers offered me some of their ‘industrial plugs,’ fully agreeing with the excessive volume … this was a state fair, with a group accustomed to playing to 8 times that many, so likely using the same equipment(!).  Nearing the end, I went back in, moving to the far back seats, then removed my plugs … it sounded like a jet engine, I could hardly distinguish the song…  I nearly cried for my daughters, and it seemed the beginning of the end with my SO…

Couldn’t listen to that group for a couple years and haven’t bought anything of theirs since., again, was it me?  I have read (this site is wonderful) that if you protect your ears too much - your brain seeks out ‘something.’  And when you expose yourself to ‘something loud,’ it’s too much..?  I don’t believe your ears actually register pain in the moment, only that ringing, say a day after the concert.  I’m open to comments, and sorry if it's too many too soon… but this is definitely something I’d like to figure out … as I seem to relate to so much of what I’m reading.

Posts: 321
Reply with quote  #3 

What do I think? I think you're nuts. I've read accounts of severe beatings and torture that weren't as rough as your accounts of everyday life. You start the day off with a chain saw? Before getting to the roto-tiller, the weed whacker, and then an industrial size vacuum cleaner?

 And then you top the evening off with a rock concert? And you want to know what's the problem? And you're still walking around?  But a "store announcement can often feel punishing"?

You don't have ear pain, but you "experience sensitivity to both loud and annoying sounds"?

Your daughter's right. You've come to the right place. Listen to what she says. Pay close attention.

As in, don't go around chainsaws any more. Or roto tiller's, or vacuum cleaners. Your ears are shot. They need a break. From you. Where to start?

What also needs some help is not just your daughters but you and your ears. If you don't protect your ears, you're not gong to be able to protect them. They're watching you. If you don't protect yourself, they might not protect themselves. They're watching you. 

You can start by trying to figure out your sound sensitivity level. At the opening page of this website, it lists a "Decibel Guide," which you can use to determine your sound sensitivity level, also called your LDL's or loudness discomfort level. For instance, the guide says normal conversation is 60 decibels. Ad dishwasher is 75 dB. And a school cafeteria, of which you are very familiar, having worked in a school,  is 85 dB.

If you cannot tolerate an announcement in a department store, your sound tolerance is probably around 70 to 75 dB.

We can go to the search engine on the web's opening page and look for the decibel level of a chain saw. I don't even want to know, but for you, I'm going to look. I'm gong to hold my ears, but I'm going to look.     

One site says chainsaws are 109 decibels. It saw rock band is 106 decibels and higher. It also says that the amount of time one is around these things is another factor. Being around a chain saw for 2 minutes can causes ear damage even with a person who has good ears, which you don't have.

Now looking at your sound tolerance level, and putting the two numbers side by side, we see that around a chain saw at 109 dB or a rock concert at 106 and higher, while the amount of sound you can tolerate is 70 to 75 dB. How do I explain this? It's too loud.    

When you figure with hyperacusis, and everything sounds twice as loud as it really is, it means the chain saw and rock concert sound to you like they're about 200 dB.

Even in a school, when you're diving for the floor every time a metal locker slams, that environment is too loud for you, as you said yourself about those sounds.  

You don't need to be working in those environments. And you should pay big money to stay away from concerts.

You might try painting houses, inside or out, as a quieter place to work. Of course, the people who are building the house may come in with loud machines, so that job might not be good either. You might have to try for disability. I've got it, so I know it's not that bad. Ear doctor might help with that, although that didn't work for me, but my psychiatrist got it for me in about five minutes. 

You need to practice helping yourself. I know I needed practice with that. I use to be the class clown type and was looking out for others, and didn't take myself into full consideration. And I paid for it, and you are, too. An associate told me, "You don't take very good care of yourself." It made me angry, but years later I realized, "He was right."

I use a frozen gel pack from my freezer to cool my hot ears down sometimes and found that they help. For instance, my Beagle dog screamed in the ears earlier today, and I almost went into a fit it was was so high pitched and loud, and he was only about 5 feet from me on a leash.

It took me 15 minutes or more to get my nerves calmed down, and when I got my wits about me, I remembered the gel pack thing, but it one ear for a minute, and then the other ear for a minutes while standing in the kitchen, and noticed that it did help.

The gel pack, sold at drug stores, helps cool down inflamation, and damaged ears must be inflamed, for it works. My chiopractor told me to alternate the gel pack and after waiting 30 minutes we'll say, use a moist heating pad on my back. The frozen gel pack helped cool down the inflamation in my back, while the moist heating pad will enlarge the blood vessils and bring more ocygen and nutrients to the injured area. 

I applied these ideas to my ears, and they worked. I have an extended heating pad (about 24 inches long) so I can put it on the pillow, lay one ear on that, and wrap the pad around the back of my head and put it on the top ear, with a small catalog on top to help hold it down, and lay there for 15-30 minutes or more and found that it does help.

Early morning before I'm fully awake and later at night when I'm trying to go to sleep make it easier, for I'm laying there for 30 minutes anyway. Another time at noon if I'm complaining about my ears a lot.

I moisten the foam rubber pad and insert it into the cover, since moist heat seems to help my ears more.

I keep the heating pad plugged in near by bed at all time, so I don't have to go through that every time. I actually have 2 heating pads plugged in all the time, for my back, my chest pain sometimes, my ears, my sore right shoulder from laying on my right side so much, for help going to sleep like a child's warm teddy bear.  I'm so sick it takes 2 heating pads going almost full time for me. 

I know not being around noise is tough. I can't be around my 2 grandchildren, ages say 3 and 5, for they make too much noise. I and they just have to be able to accept that.

Hypercausis is a tough situation, but it can be even tougher if you ignore it and don't try to help yourself. Having a positive attitude also helps going into any problem, and h is a problem in its most basic form, and how you handle problems is a key. We're fixing to find out.



Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #4 

Tom, thanks for the lengthy reply, as I wasn’t sure anyone could put a handle on this for me.  And, with Hyperacusis, my descriptions themselves were likely punishing, sorry.   

Regarding the power equipment I’ve run; I’m on 23 acres of trees, heat with wood, have two large garden plots I till twice a year and ‘weed wack’ occasionally in the summer.  I also mow and vacuum more often...  But every time I have ever run such equipment I’ve wore earplugs and never in my life have I knowingly allowed my ears to be damaged.  I was the guy who’d chance being fired as I searched for ear protection before doing anything near damaging to my ears.

I Bird ('bird watch'), and live in the woods, and often detect the faintest of songs or communication.  How can my ears be damaged when, surrounded by ‘birding experts,’ and anyone else, I hear everything?  Lately, my daughter will hear my cell phone go off in another room, when I don’t ...that concerns me, but she’s far more attuned to ‘cell phones,’ as I’m concentrating on other things, like a TV or radio program.

Can’t say I remember my last hearing test… but have never had a problem with one.  And as mentioned, I’ve never felt pain or been treated for anything ear or hearing related ...other than having the ‘wax flushed’ once as a kid.  Yet I’ll cringe at how loud some people speak…  Nuts..?  Or do some people have an obnoxious habit of focusing attention on themselves by over-speaking others?

My school days are over, overwhelmed by emotionally disturbed grade schooler's with too few staff drove me out.  But prior to that reassignment, as mentioned, I’d protected my ears during the many potentially damaging situations.  It never occurred to me to have sought disability due to the excessive noise.  But I hadn’t felt that serious, if any damage had been done, as I’d reluctantly protected myself, and wasn’t about to allow damage in order to seek disability.  Several teachers I talked with felt they’ve suffered and ‘had planned’ to speak to their union ...but as the schools were continuing to cut personal, I doubt anyone pursued it... Had my house painted in October, 4 days of a power-washer & paint spray compressor ... I'd of course move to the opposite side [wink]

What I’ve always assumed is that the majority of the public has damaged their hearing to the point they’re numb, or - too afraid to ‘speak up’ against it. you’re saying I’m sensitive or aware of noise because my ears have been damaged?  And yes, walking through a retail store when the music is interrupted by a clerk hollering into the PA system shocks me.  It’s not that my ears will hurt - it’s that I fear they’ll be damaged, thus scramble to protect myself or cringe from the unpleasant experience.

Rock shows are on their way out, for me.  My daughters saw Aerosmith last summer ...I could only imagine[frown]  But maybe my description wasn’t clear: I had brought, planned, pre-warned - and was wearing a new set (didn’t want to offer anyone something used) of ear plugs as the music/ noise commenced.  My daughters refused to use anything.  As their primary caregiver through life (at home dad) - they’ve watched me protect my ears all their lives … maybe that’s why they refused to protect theirs, anything a dad does must not be cool...

It’s not that I run screaming with my hands over my ears whenever confronted by noise, it’s just that I seem to be the only one on a street corner that will actually ‘cover his ears’ as a firetruck screams by, or mention to the mayor of a small town that ‘the parade was great - except for the lineup of police and fire equipment sounding their sirens and air-horns at it’s end’...   Nuts?  Or someone concerned for their community, family and self..?  I think we’re on the same side ~

Funny, I was a class clown, too … but have taken some time trying to figure out how that set me up to either be sensitive or concerned about my hearing?  But my clowning was old-school, more covert than overt the days of the paddle [redface]

I am still confused… though.  As a single father and provider, I’ve had to function.  Are you saying that by having even tolerated the noise I’ve described, muffled by protection or not, I’m damaged?  Or, am I so ‘psychologically messed up’ that what I perceive as too loud, is only in my head?  ...that seems possible, as I’ve always looked out for my health and senses.  But what’s weird is when I meet someone near my age, they appear much older.  And when we explore the woods, they don’t notice the trill of a Varied Thrush, nor the first crickets, or frogs ...or the wind through the trees.  Maybe they’re more attuned to cell phones?  I feel far from nuts, if only surrounded by a society that functions at an excessive and punishing volume.  

So, maybe it’s the ‘irritations’ that I’m stuck on?  Though discussing this with my daughter I asked, ‘why is it impolite to chew with your mouth open,’ ‘or to slurp drinks or suck through empty straws?’  Personally, I seem to fall in love with women's voices… and am equally repulsed by others.  I often wonder why my former wife couldn’t remove dishes (I’d washed) without banging and crashing them together?  (I loved the ‘quiet dinnerware’ link)  Or slamming cupboard doors?  Or how my mother pounds across a livingroom walking on her heels…  Yes, describing these kinds of irritations may sound ‘nuts,’ but I am honest enough to openly share the stuff most keep inside for fear of being proclaimed nuts.  

I’ll leave it there, and do appreciate your personal remedies, though I’d read them in another post.  My pain feels more psychologically irritating than physical.  Again, I appreciate your comments … a forum moderator in another realm, I understand the stand-offishness toward a Newby.  Thanks [smile]
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