Dreaming of a Hearing Dog
January 2, 2015
My Strategies for Coping With Single-Sided Hearing Loss
January 12, 2015

Hyperacusis and Recruitment

Oooh, after dipping my toe into some research about my hyperacusis, I’m now delving a little deeper and have discovered some interesting information on The Hyperacusis Network. Its introductory paragraph is this:

Imagine being at a movie where the sound track is turned to the highest volume. Actors’ voices are screaming at you. After five minutes, you leave holding your ears and cursing the theatre for its poor judgment. Turning newspaper pages, running water in the kitchen sink, your child placing dishes and silverware on the table — all are intolerable to your ears. A baby cries or a truck screeches its brakes to a halt and the sound is excruciating. What has happened to my ears?

Oh dear… this sounds just like me… hyperacusis I found each of these excruciating… and so I read on…  And then I read about something called ‘recruitment’ and now I’m not sure which of the two conditions I have. I learned that recruitment is

the rapid growth of perceived loudness for sounds in the pitch region of a person who has hearing loss.

The Action on Hearing Loss website explains recruitment thus:

If you have a hearing loss you can develop loudness recruitment. It’s an abnormal growth in the perception of loudness – although you can’t hear quiet or normal sounds well or struggle to hear them, at the same time you perceive very loud sounds as uncomfortably loud. For example, if you’re going somewhere where you’re struggling to hear a conversation and then you go outside and a lorry goes past and it’s uncomfortably loud – your ear isn’t coping with those changes in levels of sound. Hearing aids help with loudness recruitment by making sure quiet sounds are amplified more than loud sounds and loud sounds are compressed preventing them from sounding too loud or uncomfortable.

Hmm… maybe this is what’s happening to me..? When I last went to see a movie, the actors’ voices didn’t seem too loud: only the background noises (explosions, movie sound track, etc.) seemed too loud but the dialogue was fine. I wrote about my experience on The Limping Chicken blog and had two interesting comments in response to my post. One mentioned ‘recruitment’ and the other talked about ‘compression’. I am going to do more research into these topics and will report back. Anyone with insights to share, please post comments below. We love learning interesting new stuff! Many thanks to Dan Malcore for putting together hyperacusis.net, it is a really precious resource!

Author Details
Phonak hEARo, Angie is a freelance journalist and content writer. Angie was diagnosed with Otosclerosis in her right ear at the age of 30. In 2011, she suffered sudden profound hearing loss in her left ear. She uses a Phonak CROS II with a Phonak Audéo V hearing aid. You can follow Angie on Twitter @hearinglosshour and join in #HearingLossHour on the first Tuesday of the month.