It goes without saying that the life of a hyperacusis patient is always impacted, but depending on their level of severity, how much it affects their life will vary substantially. Things that people don’t even think about, like flushing a toilet or cooking, can challenge them significantly.
When it comes to limiting the noise that enters your ears, your first line-of-defense is actual protection. We’ve published a video that shows the several types of earplugs and muffs you can use.
Limiting outside noise: soundproofing a room
Windows are like a doorway for sounds from the outside world — they can enter easily depending on their quality or how reinforced they are. For severe hyperacusis patients, it’s a worthwhile consideration to buy new windows that are designed to block noise.
One of our volunteers bought Avantis Smartline 70 windows. They’re made by Sapa, a Swedish company. They offer a sound reduction of 48 dB, at least in theory. The exact definition of the sound insulation is Rw (C;Ctr) = 48 (-1;-4) dB).
Rw is the general notation for sound insulation (in Europe). C corrects this for sounds at a medium-frequency range, such as people talking. Ctr is the correction term for low-frequency range sounds, such as traffic.
So, for example, when traffic passes by these windows, it’s 44 dB (48 − 1). For people talking, it would be 47 (48 – 1). There are other companies making similar windows, too, or perhaps even better ones.
To further decrease the volume coming through, you can buy window inserts and sound-reducing curtains.
To insulate walls, you can use fiberglass or mass-loaded vinyl. Both can significantly reduce the amount of sound coming through. Another option is acoustic foam.
Inside sound reductions
Things like carpeting, plush furniture, window trimmings, and even plants help absorb sound in every room. If you drop something on the floor, carpeting has an added benefit where it won’t produce the same amount of volume that it otherwise would.
Bamboo or wheat straw cutlery and utensils are significantly less loud to use. Plastic is a great alternative, too, but not as good for the environment. Combined with a tablecloth on the dining table, eating a meal makes a lot less noise. There are also various silent microwaves available.
Again, adding carpeting reduces noise when you accidentally drop something while cooking. Placing plastic sink mats on the counter makes glass, pans, and pots, for example, less loud when you set them down. You can do the same inside your fridge.
For cutting vegetables or other things, silicone cutting boards are easier on the ears.
Bathroom: washing and brushing teeth
For the most severe sufferers, even taking a bath or shower is a challenge. Again, this depends on your severity. Sitting down when showering makes less noise. If it’s still too loud, though, you could fill your bath while wearing hearing protection and let it empty after showering, or have someone you live with assist you.
Some people wear earplugs while showering, but washing your head is louder that way because of the occlusion effect. Some shower heads are more aggressive than others, especially if you use earplugs while showering. Gentler shower heads can reduce the occlusion effect considerably. You could also try a Nebulizing Mist Spray Shower Head. Another alternative is placing artificial grass or hog hair on the shower’s floor, but if you do, make sure to keep everything very clean to prevent mold from growing.
You will unfortunately have to experiment yourself to see what works best for you. Everyone is different.
Electric toothbrushes are often too loud for someone with hyperacusis. A normal toothbrush is easier on the ears, but it’s important to clean everything thoroughly to avoid dental problems.
Other things which make less noise
For drinking, plastic cups are safer for our ears. They don’t make as much noise when you place them on a table or worse, drop them.
And another issue that hyperacusis patients often encounter is noise that comes from vents when a furnace or air conditioner is running. A good way to reduce sound is to prop a vent open in your room of choice, and place a thick microfiber cloth inside it. You can even cut them to customize their shape or double-up the layering. It substantially reduces noise. When it comes to vents, you can create a quieter room that way.
When it comes to washing and drying your clothing, anti-vibration pads provide sound-reducing attributes. And with WD-40, you can oil doors that squeak or even cabinets.
This article describes how you can soundproof doors, which can be interesting if you live with other people: https://soundproofdirect.com/top-5-ways-to-soundproof-a-door/
Do you have other tips and tricks to avoid sound? Please share them in the comments!