by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A man wrote:
I have extreme sensitivity in my hearing and some distortion as well. My ears buzz slightly to my own voice and others that have a deep tone in their voice. I believe this was sound-induced from my iPod and loud video gaming with head phones. My hearing is good except most everything with a high frequency hurts my ears and causes me distress. I have had this for a month and a half. Do you think it is permanent?
I think your extreme sensitivity to high frequency sounds will slowly go away if you protect your ears from louder sounds from now on. It may never completely go away, but it should be a lot better given enough time.
Very often exposing your ears to loud sounds results in damage to your ears such that you now perceive some sounds as being much too loud—in your case, the high-frequency sounds. This is called hyperacusis.
The problem can result from just one loud sound, but the “fix” often takes several months. It is generally a slow process. Think of it like a sprain—you get it in one sudden wrench—but healing takes weeks or months—slowly getting better. However, if during this time, if you wrench it again, you have to start all over again.
Your ears are the same way. That is why you must be so careful not to expose your ears to those damaging levels of sound again. Wear ear protectors in such situations if you can’t turn the sound down.
At the same time, don’t overprotect your ears by wearing ear protectors all the time, or you can make the situation even worse. I can’t emphasize this enough. Your ears need adequate sounds reaching them all the time to keep your hyperacusis under control—just not too loud.