Why I’ve decided to make this blog
My goal is to bring some new perspectives to the world of music and to bring awareness to the hazards of working in sound.
All I want to do is inspire those that don’t think they can do it, and to help drive out the negative forces of self-doubt for those being tested by life’s afflictions.
We all suffer of some sort of ailment in our lives, this blog is about how I deal with my crippling disease and how I’m able to continue making the music regardless of the affect this disorder has had on my hearing and my will.
This will also serve as a central hub for projects I’m involved with as well as tutorial videos and lectures on music production, sound design, Mixing and general philosophies on life.
Thanks for checking out the blog, please feel free to write to me I’m always interested in hearing your stories and learning about your battles in Music Production and in life in general.
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 theater 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?
The person who has hyperacusis can’t simply get up and walk away from noise. Instead, the volume on the whole world seems stuck on high. Hyperacusis is defined as a collapsed tolerance to normal environmental sounds. Ears also lose most of their dynamic range. What is dynamic range?
Dynamic range is the ability of the ear to deal with quick shifts in sound loudness. Suddenly everyday noises sound unbearably or painfully loud. The disorder is often chronic and usually accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but can occur in patients who have little or no measurable hearing loss.
Hyperacusis differs from recruitment, which is an abnormal growth in the perception of loudness accompanied with hearing loss. With recruitment, loud noises are uncomfortable. With hyperacusis, all sounds are too loud.
Most patients also experience inner ear pain or a feeling of fullness (pressure) in the ears. This pressure in the ears can best be described as the feeling one normally gets when descending in an airplane. Hyperacusis can be devastating to the patient’s career, relationships, and peace of mind. Finding the proper diagnosis is difficult because few doctors understand hyperacusis.
A LIFE ALTERING CONDITION
Hyperacusis makes living in this noisy world difficult and dramatically changes the patient’s pattern of life. Moving about, traveling, and communicating with others is challenging. Ear protection must be worn in areas that seem too loud. This includes earplugs, industrial earmuffs or both if necessary.
Even then, many vocational and recreational activities must be curtailed or eliminated because, although protection reduces the noise entering the ears, it sometimes seems insufficient to block out certain frequencies or noise intensities. The things most of us take for granted, such as driving a car, walking down the street, riding a bicycle, listening to the TV, stereo, someone speaking over a telephone or microphone, shopping, attending indoor events, dining at restaurants, taking vacations, or participating in group activities often are difficult or impossible. Many have difficulty using a vacuum cleaner, a hammer, a lawn mower, power tools, ride a motor boat or motorcycle.
Most jobs involve some level of noise. In some cases, the patient may need to seek other employment or attempt to secure disability with the help of an understanding doctor. Loud noise exposure generally makes the condition worse and exacerbates the accompanying tinnitus. Patients report they perceive sound – even their own voice – as uncomfortably loud and this not only causes tinnitus to increase but may also cause inner ear discomfort or a popping reflex in the ear. In fact some patients actually try to change the pitch of their own voice to accomodate their ears. This may help their ears but a patient can become hoarse in the process.
In cases not involving aural trauma to the inner ear, hyperacusis can also be acquired as a result of damage to the brain or the neurological system. In these cases, hyperacusis can be defined as a cerebral processing problem specific to how the brain perceives sound. In rare cases, hyperacusis may be caused by a vestibular disorder. This type of hyperacusis, called vestibular hyperacusis, is caused by the brain perceiving certain sounds as motion input as well as auditory input. In some cases, vestibular hyperacusis can affect the autonomic system and cause problems such as loss of consciousness, mental confusion, nausea, or extreme fatigue.
taken from http://www.hyperacusis.net/hyperacusis/what+is+hyperacusis/default.asp
The Tensor Tympani Muscle
The tensor tympani acts to dampen the noise produced by chewing. When tensed, the muscle pulls the malleus medially, tensing the tympanic membrane and damping vibration in the ear ossicles and thereby reducing the perceived amplitude of sounds.
Contracting muscles produce vibration and sound. Slow twitch fibers produce 10 to 30 contractions per second (equivalent to 10 to 30 Hz sound frequency). Fast twitch fibers produce 30 to 70 contractions per second (equivalent to 30 to 70 Hz sound frequency). The vibration can be witnessed and felt by highly tensing one’s muscles, as when making a firm fist. The sound can be heard by pressing a highly tensed muscle against the ear, again a firm fist is a good example. The sound is usually described as a rumbling sound. A very small percentage of individuals can voluntarily produce this rumbling sound by contracting the tensor tympani muscle of the middle ear. The rumbling sound can also be heard when the neck or jaw muscles are highly tensed as when yawning deeply. This phenomenon is known since (at least) 1884.
The tympanic reflex helps prevent damage to the inner ear by muffling the transmission of vibrations from the tympanic membrane to the oval window. The reflex has a response time of 40 milliseconds, not fast enough to protect the ear from sudden loud noises such as an explosion or gunshot. Thus, the reflex most likely developed to protect early humans from loud thunder claps which do not happen in a split second. The reflex works by contracting the muscles of the inner ear, the tensor tympani and the stapedius. This pulls the manubrium of the malleolus inwards and tightens it. This tightening prevents the vibrations from disturbing the perilymph. Withdrawal from gabaA drugs like xanax had been known to cause TTTS during withdrawal.
In many people with hyperacusis, an increased activity develops in the tensor tympani muscle in the middle ear as part of the startle response to some sounds. This lowered reflex threshold for tensor tympani contraction is activated by the perception/anticipation of loud sound, and is called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS). In some people with hyperacusis, the tensor tympani muscle can contract just by thinking about a loud sound. Following exposure to intolerable sounds, this contraction of the tensor tympani muscle tightens the ear drum, which can lead to the symptoms of ear pain/a fluttering sensation/a sensation of fullness in the ear (in the absence of any middle or inner ear pathology).