A DOTING husband does all the housework for his wife – because she suffers from a condition that makes the SOUND too painful.
Linda Stratmann, 71, from Walthamstow, London, says noises from washing the dishes or doing the hoovering "cut through her like a scalpel".
The retired credit controller, from London, wears industrial earmuffs 24 hours a day and carries around a decibel counter.
She started suffering with hyperacusis around 20 years ago after sitting too near a speaker at a concert.
The condition affects how people perceive sounds and causes noises to seem much louder than they should.
It means husband Gary, 59, has been left to do most of the housework while Linda has to avoid loud places like restaurants and parties.
The mum-of-one said: “Noises are agonising, it feels like someone has taken a knitting needle and stabbed me in the eardrum.
“High pitched noises and the sound of laughter are especially painful.
Noises are agonising, it feels like someone has taken a knitting needle and stabbed me in the eardrum
“I was once in a restaurant wearing my earplugs, it was someone’s birthday and they ramped up the music right next to the door so I couldn’t leave.
“Gary had to wrap his arms around my ears so I could get out of the door, I’ll never go there again.
“Now, after dinner, Gary will say ‘clear the noise scene’ and he washes the dishes, so that works out for me.”
Linda paid over £200 for her Bose sleep buds to block out noises such as motorcycles, dogs barking and her husband washing the dishes.
She said: “Whenever I go outside I use the sleep buds which play white noise that muffles sound, with ear muffs on top.
“If I’m in the house it’s the best place because I can control the noise, I can watch TV with the subtitles on.
“But as soon as you introduce another person into the environment there’s problems.
“I miss out on a lot If I miss going to a party, and if I am crossing the road when I am wearing earmuffs I have to take great care and be very vigilant about traffic.
"I’m 71, I’ve been to enough parties but imagine a younger person whose life surrounds socialising.
"It can destroy their social life, career and educational opportunities.
“I was in contact with a 23-year-old man with the condition whose life was clubbing and being out with his friends and he committed suicide, he was mourning his old life.”
Musicians and anyone serving in the military are likely to suffer with hyperacusis, but it can also be caused by trauma such as whiplash.
There is no cure and Linda underwent treatment for a year which she said didn’t help.
She said: “People get treated badly like they are making it up, being anti-social or they are mentally ill and some have been taken to psychiatrists when they actually have a hearing disability.
What is hyperacusis?
Hyperacusis is when everyday sounds seem much louder than they should.
The types of things that sufferers say affects them is:
- jingling coins
- a barking dog
- a car engine
- someone chewing
- a vacuum cleaner
It can affect one or both ears and can come on suddenly or develop over time.
Hyperacusis can be cured if it's caused by another condition, such as a migraine, head injury or Lyme disease.
If there's no clear cause, sufferera may be offered treatment to help make them less sensitive to everyday sounds.
This can include sound therapy, to get people used to everyday sounds again, and may involve wearing ear pieces that make qhite noise.
They might also be offered congitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to change the way they think about sounds and reduce anxiety.
“Luckily so many people wear headphones nowadays so it’s not that unusual. If people do stare, I really don’t care.
“I went to an event with my husband with my industrial earmuffs and a man asked me about them so I explained and he turned to my husband and asked if it was psychological.
“I was furious – I still regret not punching him in the face.”
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