Treating Sound Hypersensitivity with Sound Therapy
An over-stimulated nervous system responds disproportionately to input. Sound Therapy soothes the auditory pathway nerves and balances the middle ear muscles, allowing the natural sound dampening ability of the ear to function properly.
Only those who experience or live with someone who experiences sound hypersensitivity can realize what a devastating effect it can have on life. It may be painful or frightening to be outside near traffic, travel, be near household appliances, or attend social activities, especially those with loud music.
There are various ways of defining sound sensitivity:
- Hyperacusis means that something is wrong with the functioning of the ear or auditory reception pathways in the brain, so that sounds are experienced as being very loud, even painful.
- Phonophobia refers to a state where someone develops an emotional reactivity or fear of sound and is reacting to psychological rather than physical causes.
In some cases both conditions may be combined, or some people may simply have an unusual level of irritation caused by certain loud noises.
A more extreme form of sound hypersensitivity is "recruitment", where a sound becomes magnified by the ear so it echoes or reverberates inside the head and becomes much louder than the original sound.
Photo courtesy of Tim Parkinson
How Sound Therapy can alleviate hyperacusis
The ear should naturally have the resilience to adapt to sounds as quiet as hearing a pin drop or as loud as an opera singer. When this ability is lost it is because certain parts of the ear have lost their functionality, e.g.:
- the muscles in the middle ear may have become stiff or unresponsive so they do not quickly adapt the ear to the volume of incoming sound
- pressure chambers in the ear may be blocked
- auditory pathways in the brain may be functioning inefficiently
Sound Therapy International programs soothes the auditory pathway nerves and tones the middle ear muscles, allowing the natural sound dampening ability of the ear to function properly.
Sound Therapy, with its classical music that has been filtered through a specialist device - the Electronic Ear designed by ear specialist Dr Tomatis - gently activates all parts of the ear to restore the ear's natural ability to protect itself from noise that is too loud, as well as improving the perception of all frequencies of sound.
Here's how Sound Therapy treats the root causes of hyperacusis:
Relieving stiff ear muscles
The middle ear contains two tiny muscles - the tensor tympani and the stapedius - which play an active role in the functioning of the ear and its ability to adapt to the sound signals it receives.
The alternating high and low frequencies of Sound Therapy cause the ear muscles to repeatedly tense and relax. This exercise restores muscle tone and improves the functioning of the whole ear mechanism. In the same way that doing sit ups / crunches tones your abdominal muscles, the exercise provided by Sound Therapy restores tone and flexibility to muscles that have become stiff.
Learn more about how Sound Therapy rehabilitates the ear.
Unblocking the ear's pressure chambers
The blockage of the pressure chambers inside the ear occurs when the Eustachian tube is unable to open to allow movement of air to regulate the pressure in the ear.
The opening and closing of the Eustachian tube is controlled involuntarily by the hammer muscle (the tensor tympani), one of the muscles inside the middle ear.
Toning the tensor tympani muscle allows the Eustachian tube to open and close as needed, which removes the sensation of pressure blockages.
Learn more about how Sound Therapy unblocks blocked ears.
Improving the functioning of the auditory pathways
The organised harmonic structure of classical music with its stimulating effect, further enhanced by Dr Tomatis' "Electronic Ear", has proved to be an effective way to increase neural efficiency in processing sound.
Sound only makes sense to the degree that the brain can perceive the sounds it receives, and this depends on our auditory mapping. Ear damage, brain injury or head injury can lead to hearing distortions which may result in confused sound perception. This means that the auditory maps are faulty and the brain is not accurately perceiving sound.
The Sound Therapy International programs cause neural firing in complex patterns which engage many different sensory and perceptive areas such as the auditory cortex, hypothalamus, and limbic system. This introduces change, enabling the auditory mapping to become more accurate and useful.
Learn more about how Sound Therapy stimulates the brain.
Want to learn more before trying Sound Therapy for your sound hypersensitivity?
The book Sound Therapy: Music to Recharge Your Brain details the history of Sound Therapy and how sound can be used to enhance auditory pathways and improve brain function.
Updated in late 2009, it includes the most recent updates on related research include neuroplasticity.
How to use Sound Therapy to alleviate your sound hypersensitivity
These Sound Therapy programs are clinically proven, used in hundreds of clinics for over 60 years, and available in a portable format for over 25 years.
You can use a Sound Therapy International program in the comfort of your own home - there is no need to travel to a clinic for regular treatment, though follow ups with a qualified consultant are available through Sound Therapy Perth if you would like someone to assist you.
Using Sound Therapy to treat your hyperacusis is simply a matter of putting the headphones on and listening to your Sound Therapy program at a very low volume. Sound Therapy is like physiotherapy for your ears, and as such, it takes time and regular exercising of your ear muscles and stimulation of your auditory system for improvement to happen. Persistance is essential.
Which Sound Therapy International Program should I use?
For sound hypersensitivity, the best Sound Therapy program to start with is the Listening Foundation Program. For most, this program is all they need to successfully decrease their sensitivity.
For those that need more help, Advanced programs are available to move onto after using a Level 1 program for at least 300 hours. For hyperacusis, choose the Natural Hearing Improvement series.
It comes with a comprehensive manual, training DVDs, Sound Therapy book, and 3 month listener support via email. Face-to-face consultations incur an additional consultation fee.
Listener Success Stories
- I am delighted, in fact I am over the moon. I am so much better, it means the world to me. I was in a real dark place with my hearing and
tinnitus but now I feel so much better about my life.
- My tinnitus is much less intense and my hyperacusis has lessoned measurably after only thirty hours of listening.
- Thankyou so much Simone.
- I am telling all my friends about it, they are all happy for me.
- -- After 300 hours --
- I've got over 300hours listening under my belt now and I am able to listen for longer periods and can handle most of the music quite well.
- I'm no longer isolated, mixing quite well and out of the woods so to speak. I've still a way to go but gaining confidence.
- I like the music, well chosen pieces I think. I listen at low volumes it is soothing for me as well as healing.
- Name withheld
10 August 2011 & 4 January 2012
- I could not stand music very loud at all. It was as if my ears were going to explode from the inside out with the pressure I felt inside them, which would quickly result in a bad headache.
- I have been using Sound Therapy for 6 months now. I take my cassette player, I listen to it in bed every night, I enjoy it. Although you don't really listen hard to it. Just softly in your ear. I can even stand the top twenty on Saturday mornings (my partner always has this on). I used to leave the house or go back to bed, anywhere to get away from the noise. I handle that okay now too.
- Mrs Graham
Stockton NSW, Australia
- About eight years ago, I read an article in a Women's magazine about the damaging effects of loud noise on our hearing. Sound Therapy was mentioned.
- Since I was suffering of frequent ringing in my ears, was very sensitive to noise, with frequent headaches etc, I rang the phone number given on the article.
- I read the book in one sitting. I was so impressed, that immediately after reading it, I purchased the tapes. I have said many times since, that the few hundred dollars I spent buying the tapes was the best investment I ever made for my health. From the very first moment I started listening , I knew they were going to do me good.
- I couldn't get enough. I listened for 6 hours straight. That same night I slept with my headphones on. I was amazed and very pleased.
- A few months later, the ringing in my ears, my regular dizzy spells, and my headaches, were largely gone. I felt so energized that I went from needing 8-9 hours sleep a night, to only 7. Many times since, I have woken up feeling fully rested after only 5 or 6 hours of sleep.
- Sound Therapy has certainly made a great difference to the enjoyment of my life. My ears and I are very grateful.
- Julia Angel Gulenc
Moorabin, Victoria, Australia