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Mike007

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
Hi all - 

I live in a noisy apartment building on my own and for the last two months - ever since the COVID-19 quarantine started - I have been wearing over-ear noise cancelling headphones nearly all day, listening to music, podcasts and sometimes just white noise apps to drown out the noise of everyone being home at the same time. 

According to my phone my decibel levels were sometimes in the 80s/90s for short periods of time, but mostly I was in the 70s range.  I suspect the real issue was the duration -- I was wearing the headphones anywhere between 8-10 hours each day for the last eight weeks.

And now, it seems, I have Hyperacusis:  a constant dull ache in both ears, and everything just sounds louder, especially anything in the kitchen (plates, silverware).  I get no immediate pain from sounds (besides the constant pain), everything just sounds very loud.  No tinnitus.  I've stopped wearing the headphones, and it persists.  

I saw an ENT, which included a hearing test with an Audiologist.  The test showed no hearing loss (and was apparently "excellent").  My "discomfort levels" were worse than average, but according to them not by much. 

She thinks I have a mild case, and theorized that spending so much time in the noise cancelling headphones - away from normal environmental sounds - is what has caused the issue and that my ears just need to readjust.  She seemed hopeful and said I didn't need to consider TRT just yet, just to avoid the headphones and do not shy away from every day sounds.  

But then I come to the internet and a much different, scarier picture is painted.  I liked this doctor, she definitely seemed familiar with this condition, but now I'm not sure if she is correct and I don't know where to go from here.

My questions:

- Does this doctor's theory make sense?  With NC headphones on, I was still getting noise from my music, etc.  I wasn't wearing them to listen to silence by any means, so is the noise cancelling element really the issue?  Isn't it more likely that it was my ear drums being blasted by the sounds for so long each day that caused it?

- They said my hearing was "excellent", which they seemed to think helps my case -- I mean, yeah, isn't that obvious though?  If I am sensitive to sounds now, wouldn't I hear things much better on their test?  Or am I misunderstanding?

- Is the doctor's advice good?  Is she being overly optimistic?  I've only known I've had this for about 6 days.  Everyone in my life seems to agree with the doctor and think I should just relax on the headphones and see what happens over the next couple weeks before diving into TRT, but I am afraid of it getting worse and I want to do everything I can ASAP.

- Which brings me to my ultimate questions:  what can/should I really do now?  I guess I am still in the early stages of what is, hopefully, a mild case?  But can it get worse?  What action steps should I take right now?  Is it ever too soon to start TRT or should I be letting my ears rest for awhile?  Should I be actively protecting them in this early stage?  I'm already listening to a lot of white noise (outside of my headphones) with a fan, a white noise machine and my phone, but also am worried about overdoing even that.

I know I likely need to reach out to a specialist, but I just wanted to gather some opinions here on what to do for the immediate future.

Thank you, really appreciate any feedback anyone can give. 

Mike



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janeygirl

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Posts: 133
Reply with quote  #2 
I agree with your Doctor that protecting your ears so much can certainly turn up the "gain" and make you more sensitive for sure. When I first came down with Hyperacusis, all I wanted was quiet. It was not to be found and I know with the sheltering in place, there are many people who are suffering and trying to suffer in silence and can't. For me, I suffered for many years and for me the best thing I did was TRT but it has to be with an experienced person who at least in my view was trained in the Jastreboff model. As for what you can do now, I agree the calming down when you can and just accepting that this is the way it is for now. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a key component of TRT as well as adding noise small increments each week and of course wearing the generators. Again increasing the sounds ever so slightly periodically. I could notice a difference right away, think about it as a "gym" for your ears. Yes, by all means when you can safely see a specialist, it's a good idea. But select someone who understands Hyperacusis. Dan has probably listed some specialists here on the Network but perhaps the American Tinnitis organization in Oregon has a list. Again you have to do our due diligence, just because they are listed does not mean they work on what you need. But it will be worth it. Play some soft non lyrical white noise and music, deep breathe and meditate, keep on telling yourself this is temporary (because it is) and when you can try and meet with a Specialist. I'm glad you are here, this is a very loving and helpful group.


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Jane Parks-McKay
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JW

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Posts: 7
Reply with quote  #3 

Hi Mike,
Im from nyc as well, and also developed H during quarantine after taking a surprise headphone blast, as as well as loud construction noise in nyc a couple of weeks prior. I think my symptoms are not quite as mild as yours, i can get discomfort to sound and i also get delayed pain in silence. I agree with what Janeygirl said and to go slow. I also want to add, I think it would be wise not to take any very loud incidents to your ears during this time. Hyperacusis is sneaky and it can worsen. When you need to protect yourself during this early stage from very loud sounds i think thats worth doing - earplugs or headphone protection. I do believe most H persons have normal audiograms, that is not surprising to hear. If your introducing sound before working with a trained clinician take it slow and don't over do it. Given some of our common timing and location feel free to reach out to me here or directly any time.
Jon

 

 


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JW
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Mike007

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #4 
Thanks for the responses.

Jon - good to see someone else in NYC, although sorry that you are also dealing with this.  Hope you're holding up ok.  I guess I've sort of created a nightmare scenario for myself in my apartment by wearing my NC headphones for so long.  Now with Hyperacusis I've ended up much more sensitive to the very noise I had been trying to avoid.  

janeygirl - thanks for the kind words and I'm glad to see you think my doctor may be correct that it was the constant exposure to noise-cancelling alone that may have caused my issue.  I've been confused because honestly I never felt like what I was listening to was that loud.  So I guess it makes sense that the repeated long durations and the noise-cancelling element factor in.

A few more random questions for you and anyone else out there:

- It sounds like its ok to protect my ears at this early stage, but where do I draw the line?  Surely I shouldn't protect all day.  Do I just do a few hours a day and try to lessen over time?  Or is it *only* when I can expect the loud noises that irritate me (i.e. when I cook in the kitchen).  I think I'll order ear muffs - I am not a fan of ear plugs and am a bit afraid of my NC headphones now.

- I thought I had read elsewhere that anything in a normal dB range won't actually harm anyone with H, despite potentially causing pain.  Is that true?  Or is it possible to cause further damage if the sound I expose myself to irritates me, but is still considered a normal level of sound, say 60-70 dB?  

- I guess I'm not sure if I have painful H or not.  I get no immediate pain from sound, but I do have a dull pain/ache in my ears all day.  Is the constant pain built up from all the noise?

- I see the Hyperacusis Network offers its own pink noise program to follow.  Is that designed to be done on our own?  Is there any value in ordering that and getting started with it?

Thanks all.
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