Please help me. I can't take this anymore

I’ve posted here before but I must try again as the situation has become unbearable. Before I explain I should mention I am not currently using a hearing aid.

For the past year I have developed a strange hearing disorder. I hear high frequency speech distorted and/or extremely emphasized. I am referring to the sibilance part in speech. This is very source-dependant as there are big differences between different men and women as well as acoustic environments and microphones used. This affects me in real life very much but the biggest problem is “digital life”. TV, music, phone audio, they’re all unbarable. It’s like I can’t find relief. Whenever an S comes up it’s like a wild hissing snake. I can’t follow text properly as every S throws me off. Within a short while I get a headache and then as speech continues each S increases my headache. I have tinnitus so listening to music/TV is all I can use for masking and distraction. I have tried different speakers, in different rooms. Tried high quality headphones. This isn’t an equipment problem.

I have seen 3 ENTs and audiologist. already took a hearing test months ago that came up fine,as expected. It’s not that I can’t hear these frequencies but rather I hear them distorted… Exaggerated… Tests will always show i have good hearing.

Is there some device that can help? Some device that uses extreme EQ to soften certain frequencies? I do not need amplification, that would make matters worse. I think my main problem is that my ears are super-emphasizing treble.

Would love some answers. Thank you.

Are you wearing Hearing Aid’s?

Something occluding like the nuhearas maybe. Not a solution for long periods of time but they might give you a break.

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As I wrote on my post, no, I am not using hearing aids.

How is this product supposed to help me? How does this address my problem?

It would block up your ears so you would hear much less natural sound. Natural sound would be replaced by equalised sound. You would control the sliders to turn down the problem frequencies. That’s how I think it would work. I’ve never used that product. You asked for ideas. There’s one.


Since you say your hearing tests out fine, perhaps try ear plugs. They often reduce those higher frequencies. You might struggle to hear everything (like most of us here) but at least the sibilance would be reduced.

Ear plugs… Interesting.

However, wouldn’t that just lower the overall volume? Meaning the same as just lowering TV volume?

Or do you mean that high frequency will be more absorbed in the foam plug, and the mid-low frequencies will penetrate more thus somewhat applying EQ to lower HF while keeping the midrange audible?

Obviously everything would be quieter but I seem to think it’s all the higher screaming sounds in industrial settings that are most harmful and that lower frequencies can be generally picked up.
I dunno. Give it a whirl and see what happens and report back your findings. It’s an interesting situation you’re in.
Aging typically loses the high frequencies. It’s almost like your ears are backwards. Maybe you have poor low frequencies so the highs are so much more pronounced. Except that your hearing tests come out fine. Tests are usually from about 250hz up to about 8khz. There’s a lot of bass below 250hz. There are a lot of harmonics and other sounds higher.

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Maybe you can try high fidelity ear plugs that use attenuation filters. They can be found on Amazon. I don’t really know if they’d work in your case or not, but the general idea is that you need some kind of attenuation filters. Maybe normal earplugs blocks out too much sound, but these high fidelity earplugs blocks out just enough sound for you to be able to hear something but not everything at their original loudness.

Usually people who go to music concert would use these to avoid hearing damage from the loud music.

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Do you know it it’s both ears or only one.

I know that my left ear hears more treble than right, but no it is not in one ear. I am pretty sure this is a brain auditory problem. A thousand earplugs or HAs can’t fix this distortion and HF amplification in my brain but by reducing the infected frequencies I can alleviate it a bit.
I will have silicone and foam plugs within a few hours. Will try em out and report back.

@yuvalfrr, my two cents worth: Are you near a large academic teaching hospital in a major urban center? You said you have been to three ENTs. Apparently they have been unable to find anything medically wrong that would be causing your problem.
Maybe if you went to someplace like Massachusetts Eye and Ear Institute in Boston (or obviously somewhere near where you live) they would be able to assemble a team of specialists to determine what the problem is and treat it. For instance, an audiologist, an ENT and a neurologist specializing in hearing issues.
Also specialists at these large institutions are often professionally acquainted with other specialists with expert knowledge around the world.
I understand your desire for immediate relief, but it sure sounds like you might have a medical condition. IMO you should do whatever you can to get it diagnosed. Good luck.

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“Hyperacusis” is the term to feed Dr Google. The good doctor will probably tell the op that there is no conclusive diagnosis or test. Treatment? CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy) and possibly sound therapy- probably to try to habituate to it. My guess is that the people to seek help from are the same people to seek help from in the case of tinnitus symptoms. Maybe the hearing association in the op’s country of residence could advise.


A friend of mine has had this problem. There seems to be no cure, but what works for him is ear plugs + avoiding situations like restaurants, concerts, large crowds, etc where this is likely to be at its worst. I’m surprised that the ENTs and Audi’s who have been consulted haven’t picked it up. I second the suggestion to consult an audiologist in a speech & hearing clinic at a university where they train audiologists. They teach this stuff, so they should know it. Worked for me.

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Were it me I might consider getting a set of hearing aids with occluding domes, and having them adjusted to pass the non-offensive frequencies and attenuate the offensive ones. This might give you far more control/specificity than ear plugs. Not an inexpensive option, but your mental wellbeing is worth a lot.

I thought about this, too, but I’m not sure how applicable this is to the OP’s problem. That is because hearing aids don’t attenuate, they can only amplify. And the OP doesn’t really have any hearing loss per se, so he doesn’t really need any amplification, he only needs attenuation in the right frequency spots but HAs can’t provide attenuation.

Sure, occluding domes would provide some amount of attenuation, then the amplification from the hearing aids would basically nullify this attenuation by amplifying back just enough to restore the hearing back to the normal level. But the big question is whether the amount of attenuation from the occluding domes would be enough to solve the issue for the OP or not. It seems like a very expensive option to try out but a good outcome is not guaranteed.

If it was a guaranteed good outcome then it may be worth it, but we also have to consider other side effects of the occlusion introduced like the discomfort when chewing foods, not to mention that the HA receivers can’t really faithfully reproduce the very low ends (like 20 Hz to 250 Hz) very well.

Not sure why it would have to be a guaranteed outcome. Costco offers full refund and maybe others do, too…? Or, if Y knows somebody who has hearing aids he might try putting them on and turning the volume down and see what happens.

As far as not being able to attenuate, yes. What I was thinking is that my hearing aids seem to process all incoming sounds in some way, even if they don’t amplify. Y has a very unusual situation. Perhaps there is enough change in sound quality that it knocks the edges off the offensive sounds. Y is desperate. What is to lose for him to give it a try and see if anything changes?

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That’s because I was not thinking about Costco and I was only thinking of a full fledged audiologist (or a team of specialist) who’s equipped to deal with and is willing to work with the OP in trying to help with his issue.

This is a very unconventional case of a fully normal hearing person having some different kind of hearing issue that hearing aids are not designed to help solve in the first place. Costco is a hearing aid dispenser who’s dedicated to help hard of hearing people and although they do hire audis in some locations, there are probably more HIS practicing than audis. I can see at first pass a Costco HIS would do a hearing test for the OP and declare the OP not needing hearing aids in the first place and say they can’t help the OP with his issue because they’re not equipped to deal with his issue, and would pass. But maybe I’m wrong.

You’d also have to think about the liability side as well. Using amplifiers to experiment with attenuation is not necessarily a safe thing to do and if they damage the OP’s hearing for good or make it worse, they’d have a lawsuit on their hand. If I were Costco, I wouldn’t want to be exposed to that kind of liability, Maybe even as part of the HIS training, that kind of experimental practice is already discouraged or even prohibited in the first place for safety consideration. I think this is probably where the difference between a fully trained audiologist and a trained HIS comes in.

This reminds me of this on-going thread in the forum Random impression of Costco where a forum member who’s an HCP (Neville) enlightened me as to the scope of a private practice audiologist may do as compared to a very limited scope of what an audi or HIS at Costco is allowed to do. Below is a cut and paste of Neville’s reply in that thread on what Costco doesn’t do. I notice that you did participate in that thread as well, Torbill, so you probably already have seen this.

Per Neville’s comment -> Costco doesn’t do infants, pediatrics or geriatrics. They don’t do wax management, tinnitus/hyperacusis/misophonia, dizziness, auditory processing, (concussion). They don’t do rehab, community outreach, industrial or educational audiology. They don’t do custom earplugs or musician monitors. They don’t do CI assessment, bone anchored hearing aids, electrophysiology, research, or interoperative monitoring. Because they don’t do these things, they are involved in less interprofessional collaboration. They provide a more limited set of devices from a limited set of manufacturers.

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I did a bit of light reading last night and using earplugs or avoiding troublesome environments might be the wrong thing to do. The problem comes back worse. This is probably out of the purview of audiology. Very disappointing that not one out of 3 ents can point the op towards support.