Hearing loss is an unpleasant problem. It greatly affects the quality of life. A person hears external sounds worse as well as the speech of people becomes mumbled, gradually losing connection with the surrounding world.
Due to the lack of treatment, other physiological and psychological problems develop. Therefore, you cannot leave hearing impairment without attention. It is necessary to seek help as soon as possible.
Many Americans who live with people with hearing problems often note unexpected behavior. Their loved ones have a problem hearing at the same time complain of sounds being too loud. They can cause painful sensations, with a slight increase in voice level or surrounding sounds. Is it possible? Yes, we are talking about auditory recruitment. Let’s take a closer look at what kind of phenomenon this is and how to help your loved ones who have encountered it.
What is Auditory Recruitment?
Auditory recruitment is a common phenomenon in people with hearing loss, especially with sensorineural hearing loss. How does it manifest? You are trying to say something to the listener, but he does not hear you or does not understand. You have to speak louder and louder. And at one point, the listener reacts sharply and unexpectedly, covering his ears with his hands, complaining that you scream too loudly. Sometimes it brings pain. It is quite difficult to determine the level of comfortable speech volume.
The phenomenon has another name – auditory distortion. In any case, it brings additional problems. After all, people do not hear well, and at any moment they can get painful sensations from some sounds.
What are the causes of auditory recruitment?
How is it possible that a person hears at the same time poorly, but can complain about sounds being too loud? To answer the question, you need to understand the reasons for hearing loss with recruitment.
We perceive external sounds thanks to the hair cells in our inner ear. These are fragile cells. They are not restored in case of damage. Many factors destroy them. First of all, it is a long noise effect (noise at work, listening to loud music, etc.) and age-related changes. Therefore, hearing care professionals often diagnose auditory recruitment in people with age-related hearing loss and certain professions (musician, builder, etc.).
Sound is measured in decibels (dBA). 75 decibels and below is considered safe, even for extended periods of time. Any louder, and damage is possible. Long or repeated exposure to sounds at 85 dBA can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound, the less noise exposure is needed to cause damage.
So, due to negative effects and damage, hair cells can no longer respond normally to sound waves. As a result, a person’s hearing worsens. However, these cells degrade unevenly. Some cells continue to function normally. Their work causes an unexpected effect when a person does not hear you and suddenly begins to complain about loud speech or sounds.
Don’t confuse Auditory Recruitment with Hyperacusis
Inexperienced specialists can confuse auditory recruitment with hyperacusis. However, these are completely different auditory problems. They require different treatment approaches.
Hyperacusis is an increased sensitivity to sounds, in which even everyday conversations, voices, and the work of devices become unbearably loud, and sometimes painful. Unfortunately, the mechanism of development of hyperacusis to date has not been fully established. Studies in the area continue.
People with hyperacusis present various complaints: from mild discomfort from ordinary sounds to unbearable pain in the ear and head. Increased sensitivity to sounds is not concomitant with hearing loss. People with hyperacusis, as a rule, have no problems with hearing.
At the same time, the studies show that more than 80% of people with tinnitus have complaints of violation of sound tolerance. In addition, children with autism and auditory processing disorder can be very sensitive to certain sounds.
What are the causes of hyperacusis?
Doctors distinguish two types of hyperacusis: Vestibular and Cochlear. With the cochlear type, the patient feels pain or discomfort, with vestibular – dizziness, nausea, and impaired coordination.
The following factors can lead to the development of hyperacusis:
Ear infections and its complications
Inner and middle ear injuries
Prolonged stress, etc.
How to cure Hearing Loss and Recruitment?
If you suffer from auditory recruitment, then you should not wait for unpleasant symptoms to disappear on their own. They will not pass. Moreover, today there is an effective treatment. It helps to cope with hearing loss and recruitment. This is the daily use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals can configure your sound compression devices in a certain range that would be suitable for your specific needs.
Dr. Zhanneta Shapiro notes that hearing amplifiers are not suitable for the treatment of auditory recruitment. The hearing amplifiers don’t have the possibilities that are necessary to compress the corresponding sound ranges. Therefore, the only correct treatment is wearing hearing aids.
The key points for treatment are proper diagnosis. The audiologist must make the correct diagnosis. For this, there are specialized tests. Moreover, the audiologist should have enough experience to determine what causes a person to have increased sensitivity to sounds. Audiology Island has specialists and all the necessary equipment to give the right diagnosis and recommend proper treatment.
It is important to note that the auditory distortion, like the age-related hearing loss, can develop gradually. A person may have increased sensitivity to sounds at any time. If you already wear hearing aids and feel similar symptoms, then be sure to contact an audiologist. Tell the doctor about your new problems. The audiologist will correctly set up the treatment and give you additional recommendations.
The main thing is not to delay with a request for help. The sooner you turn to a specialist, the faster you will hear surrounding sounds without additional difficulties.
About Dr Zhanneta Shapiro
Dr Zhanneta Shapiro received her Masters of Science from Brooklyn College in 2005 and completed her Doctorate of Audiology from Florida University in May 2008. Her graduate training was in various hospitals in the tri-state area and a residency period completed at Ear Nose and Throat Associates of New York. [ Learn More ]