Just because a person suffers from hearing loss does not mean they lose the ability to startle at loud noises. In fact, in many cases, loud noises can be perceived as more startling and uncomfortable.
If you suffer from hearing loss you may have noticed this phenomenon, referred to as recruitment, or in some cases auditory distortion. Though you might have trouble hearing a family member talking to you at a normal volume from across the dinner table, you have a strong reaction to someone yelling, or hearing loud music played at Yum Center.
What Causes Recruitment?
To understand how recruitment works it is important to first understand how hearing loss works.
Hearing loss occurs when the delicate hair cells in our inner ears start to degrade. Often this happens with age, however certain diseases, ear trauma, tumors, medications, and damage caused by extremely loud noises can cause cells to degrade as well.
While some hairs degrade, others stay functional and retain their ability to detect sound waves. What this means is that those experiencing hearing loss often struggle to detect low-level sounds, but as the sound intensity grows loud enough for the older hair cells to detect it, the sound can feel like it rises significantly in a very short span of time, which can be startling and disorienting.
Seeing an Audiologist
If you are struggling with hearing loss and experiencing recruitment we highly recommend reaching out and making an appointment with an audiologist. Hearing aids are often the best treatment for recruitment. Whether you are new to hearing aids or need some adjustments to your current pair your audiologist can work with you to determine what specific noise range bothers you the most and set your hearing aids to compress sounds in that range.
What if I’m in Pain?
Recruitment can be a distressing condition, but if you experience loud noises as painful you might be suffering from hyperacusis. This condition is found in people with and without hearing loss and needs to be addressed by a medical professional.
To learn more about what you can do to treat recruitment or to schedule an appointment with a hearing loss expert, contact Heuser Hearing Institute today.