I've yet to meet a fellow Lyme patient who doesn't experience light and/or sound sensitivity to some degree. Sometimes these sensitivities are so severe they interfere greatly with everyday life; sometimes they're just annoying enough to make us squint our eyes or cover our ears with our hands for a moment or two to recalibrate and calm our minds. The spectrum of outside stimuli that can trigger a negative reaction vary, as well. There are obvious triggers like sudden bursts of sound (e.g. fireworks, sudden volume increases on the TV, police sirens) or light (e.g. overhead fluorescent lighting, sunlight reflecting off of snow or coming through a car window, action movies with lots of flashy scenes), and there less obvious triggers that seem harmless enough to an average, healthy person, but can send a person with light/sound sensitivity into a downward tailspin (e.g. the sound of a clock ticking, soft background music, the screen of a cell phone).
Most often, as with all Lyme-related symptoms, the severity of these sensitivities can wax and wane--meaning, they could be so intense on one day that all you want to do is hide in your bedroom, completely hidden under your comforter, and the next day they could be tolerable enough you're able to go out into the "real world" with minimal difficulty (as far as the light and sound sensitivities go). For some people, though, myself included, these symptoms stay at a very intense level for a long time, and persist until treatment is well under way or has been completed. Which makes complete sense, because we know the attack of the Lyme spirochetes is non-discriminatory--they make their way into every single tissue in our body, including all the muscles/organs/nerves, etc. associated with our eyes and ears--and only by treating Lyme and any co-infections (the underlying causes) will we get long-lasting relief from the symptoms.
In the meantime, though, I wanted to share some of the things I do to manage/cope with light and sound sensitivity, in hopes that some of you may also find them helpful.
1. Dark sunglasses
This one probably seems like a no-brainer, because many of us already have a trusty pair of sunglasses we can pull out at a moment's notice if the light around us starts to bother us, but I wanted to mention a couple specific things that have helped me get the most effective help with sunglasses.
2. Ear plugs
We all know about the basic function headphones serve--to allow us to listen to any type of audio without either disturbing those around us or without being disturbed by outside noise--but have you ever thought about what an asset headphones can be to your arsenal in the fight against light and sound sensitivity? Let me give you an example:
4. Blackout curtains
Before I even elaborate on this point, just take a minute to consider the two components of the object presented:
Another "common sense" measure I didn't think about taking until about 7 months ago. I grew up thinking that sleep masks were only for people who were so worried about their appearance they always stressed about getting plenty of "beauty sleep," which was an inaccurate assumption, yes, but a logical conclusion for a kid/teenager who had access to TV, movies, and books, becuase that's how sleep mask wearers are portrayed in popular culture.