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…


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!

4 thoughts on “Hyperacusis and Recruitment”

  1. This is totally our daughter. She was DX with bilateral mild sensorineural hearing loss at 8 years old. They call it cookie bite hearing loss. Her loss is @ normal conversation range. Loud noises, crying babies, movie theaters all bother her…more so when she was younger. She wears bilateral HA.

  2. Have experienced severely loud recruitment for over thirty years…one of the least understood effects of hearing loss..if i ask husband to repeat , he actually cups his hands and screams at me..making it all the more impossible to discern what was said. I have said “low and slow ” to so many but they still talk faster and louder!

  3. I have been diagnosed with hyperacusis, though the Dr. did not mention recruitment. I am hypersensitive to “loud” noises at higher frequencies, e.g., loud bistros, fork dropped on wooden floor, squealing kids. All I can add is that the symptoms have an “incremental” value. The longer the noise goes on, the more intolerable it becomes. One fork drops, I jump. Second fork drops, I’m looking for a quiet corner. Third fork drops, and I can’t stay in the restaurant. I stalk out, and make the waitress follow me out to collect the tab. Not nice, but it’s better than suicide.

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