Categories
Noise

Hyperacusis and Gaming Soundtracks

Hyperacusis and Gaming Soundtracks

Regular everyday sounds are physically painful for people with hyperacusis or decreased sound tolerance. This means sometimes we need to use hearing protection to cope when other people don’t need any. Sound quality is an important factor. For example, metallic higher pitch sound sources usually hurt more than natural lower pitch sound sources. This means metal knives or forks hitting or scraping on a plate can be excruciating, but wooden utensils or chopsticks sounds are less painful.

I really noticed this difference with our latest new games. We got the Nintendo Switch as an early Festivus present because of being trapped in quarantine. First my partner played Zelda Breath of the Wild. I had no problem with the soundtrack on low, even for monster slaying. But when he finished and switched to The Witcher, I had to pull out my hearing protection. The background soundtrack has a repeated metallic sword on sword type clinking sound. It’s in scenes where there’s a blacksmith nearby. And hurts so much it makes my teeth ache. Monster slaying is also painfully loud.

I was deciding between my high fidelity corded premolded filtered musician’s earplugs or my heavy duty corded foam earplugs. It reminds me of how I used my high fidelity earplugs at the loud Legend of Zelda Symphony of the Goddesses concert, but used my high noise reduction foam earplugs at super loud head banging concert by one of my favourite bands: Avatar Metal. Which would I need for The Witcher?

When he noticed me with two sets of earplugs slung around my neck, my partner started turning down or muting the volume when I’m watching him play The Witcher so I don’t have to use hearing protection at all. Which is really nice of them.

I wish audio designers for games would think about quality of sounds, especially for the many people with hearing health issues like decreased sound tolerance. They could have picked a different sound without sacrificing gamer or gamer audience enjoyment.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Categories
Hearing Protection

MRI Testing with Tinnitus or Hyperacusis

MRI Testing with Tinnitus or Hyperacusis

Doctors don’t make MRI referrals unless testing is important for a person’s healthcare. But MRI testing can cause hearing loss, tinnitus, or hyperacusis. In 2018, scientists found noise levels of modern MRI machines are extremely high.

MRI machines have average noise like a jackhammer or chainsaw loudness (110 to 115 dB), and peak or max noise as loud as gunfire (130 dB). Newer more powerful MRI machines can have even higher noise levels (150 dB range), louder than military jets taking off from aircraft carriers. The stronger the magnetic field from the MRI machine, the higher the noise, and the higher the risk of temporary or permanently impaired hearing health. This is a serious concern, especially for people who need more than one MRI over time.

Experts now recommend double hearing protection during MRI testing: MRI-safe earmuffs over MRI-safe foam or solid earplugs. Many MRI clinics now offer double hearing protection to patients. Hopefully MRI departments have a variety of MRI safe earplugs and earmuffs to fit different shapes and sizes of ears including children and adults.

Sometimes people bring their own MRI safe high noise reduction rating hearing protection (highest NRR as possible). When using double hearing protection, people usually can’t hear instructions, but typically you must remain completely still anyway.

Even when using double hearing protection, people with hyperacusis or decreased sound tolerance might still have pain or discomfort during the MRI. The loud testing could flare up hyperacusis or tinnitus, and some people report new tinnitus or hyperacusis after MRI testing.

I always expect my tinnitus and hyperacusis to get worse or flare up temporarily after a loud activity or event. When that happens, it usually settles down after a few days, but it can take longer depending on the person.

Often people find it helpful to use coping tools like listening to very soft comfortable relaxation sounds and/or use relaxation techniques in the days before and after the test. This can help lower hearing system over-activity after a loud stressful event. Ears often settle down sooner, and people cope better with the stress of medical testing.

Medical experts are asking MRI manufacturers to make quieter machines with much lower noise to prevent hearing system damage in people who need MRIs.

The tech is being developed. A March 11, 2019 article in Fast Company by Mark Wilson shared news that scientists have developed a shape that blocks all sound. A team at Boston University have developed an “acoustic metamaterial” that blocks sound. It still lets air and light through.

The possibilities are endless. Quieter MRI machines. No more noisy leaf blowers, vehicle exhausts, aircraft engines. Will be exciting to see where this research takes noise control.

In the meantime if you need an MRI, talk to your doctor or referring doctor about any concerns. Check ahead about MRI-safe hearing protection if possible, or bring your own double set.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Categories
Recommendations

Social Hearing Protection

Social Hearing Protection

Websites, media and other sources say use ear protection if you’re in damaging high level environmental noise whether that’s mowing the lawn, going to a concert or stadium event or doing some hunting or shooting. This couldn’t be more general or vague.

It depends on if you need to hear in noise. Do you want to enjoy music clearly? Do you want to talk more easily? Do you need to hear prey, predators, or hunting partners? If yes, you need high fidelity hearing protection.

Experts now estimate at least 70 dB average noise or higher is a hearing health risk. If you think it’s too loud, it’s too loud. If you have to raise your voice to talk, it’s too loud.

Regular ear protection is fine if you don’t have to listen to anything or talk to anyone; for example, using a loud blower for yard leaves or using power tools for a woodworking project. Regular earmuffs. Foam earplugs. Cut as much noise as possible.

If you want to hear music or have conversations then regular muffs and all foam plugs only distort the sound. Nobody wants to hear distorted music, especially if you’ve paid for concert tickets or to get in to a nightclub. Nobody wants to strain to understand conversations or strain their voice loudly talking back and forth while enjoying a sports game, monster truck show, or MMA fight. Nobody wants to go out hunting and not be able to hear what they need to in their environment.

Sunglasses block bright light but person can still see. High fidelity hearing protection blocks loud noise but person can still hear.

Jan Mayes

There are lots of manufacturers offering high fidelity products. They range in cost from lowest with pre-molded earplugs to highest for electronic ear protection. Products with a battery may stop working when using if the battery dies, so that is one thing to consider when choosing. For earplugs, custom musician’s type earplugs from audiologists fit well especially for people who can’t get a good fit with pre-molded earplugs. Here are some sources and reviews for different types of hearing protection:

Safety Supply Stores (good prices and good selection of high definition earmuffs/earplugs)
Hearing Health Clinic e.g. custom fit by Audiologist or hearing healthcare professional
ShootingandSafety.com Best Ear Protection For Shooting
Etymotic High Fidelity/Hi Def Hearing Protection
Sonicbids.com Best Musician’s Earplugs
Etymotic Custom Molded Musician’s Earplugs**
Earmufs.com Best Electronic Earmuffs++
HeadphonesCompared Best Electronic Earplugs**++
For more detailed musician’s hearing protection resources: www.musiciansclinics.com

Note: Active Noise Cancellation is for low to moderate not hazardous steady background noise or hum of activity e.g. travelling by airplane, transit, office noise.
Review: The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones

Well Fit Hearing Protection

What happens if you don’t protect your ears while enjoying that concert or football game at the stadium? At first the damage is permanent. Frayed hearing nerve fibers. Hidden. Invisible. Painless. Maybe some temporary hearing loss for a day or two after. Maybe some temporary ringing in the ears (tinnitus). But every time you’re in noise with no ear protection, the damage keeps getting worse. Turning your high fidelity hearing sound system into a low fidelity hearing sound system with distortion, static and missing parts. Your favourite music won’t sound so good after all.

Prevent damage before it happens. Always make sure to use properly fitting hearing protection every time you need to protect your hearing. Keep your hearing system high fidelity by avoiding noise damage to hearing health and communication.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter