Hearing Concerns

Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis is a disorder that makes a person overly sensitive to a range of sounds. Considered as a disorder in loudness perception, patients suffering from hyperacusis may find specific noises uncomfortably loud to a point of being unbearable.

The condition can affect adults and children but is not that common. In fact, data shows hyperacusis occurs in one out of 50,000 people. 

Hyperacusis Signs and Symptoms

Hyperacusis onset can be sudden or gradual. Symptoms may include the following:

  • sudden, loud noises (like a door slamming) can cause pain and discomfort 
  • ordinary sounds and conversations are distorted or too loud
  • own voice seems too loud or distorted
  • low-intensity sounds seem too loud

The severity of hyperacusis may vary per individual. Some may find the symptoms bearable while some find the sound unbearable enough to the point that it affects their daily routine.

Hyperacusis Causes

Hyperacusis can be caused by a variety of factors. The most common cause of hyperacusis is damage to the cochlea due to exposure to loud noises.

Other known causes of hyperacusis include:

  • One-time exposure to loud noise
  • Changes in hearing due to old age
  • Head or ear trauma
  • Long-term noise exposure 
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Ear surgery
  • Facial nerve paralysis 

If you observe that you only have loud sound intolerance in one ear, mention it to your healthcare provider because further tests should be carried out to rule out acoustic neuroma (tumor) on the vestibular nerve responsible for balance. Tumors are easily removed and are at lower risk for complications if detected early.

Diagnosing Hyperacusis

As of now, there are no specific tests to diagnose decreased sound tolerance. Diagnosis of hyperacusis will depend mainly on a patient’s description of discomfort. Audiological tests are performed to assess the health of the ear and to rule out any other hearing-related issues.

Types of Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis is categorized into four major types:

  • Loudness hyperacusis
  • Annoyance hyperacusis (also linked to misophonia)
  • Pain hyperacusis
  • Fear hyperacusis (also linked to misophonia)

Since hyperacusis has several symptoms that overlap with other medical conditions, getting a thorough evaluation is needed to ensure that the correct diagnosis is achieved.

Hyperacusis Treatment

Once noise sensitivity has started, there is usually no cure for that, especially because the common causes are attributed to damage caused by noise and aging. However, other disorders of the inner ear, which can be mistaken for hyperacusis, can be treated with prompt assessment.

In short, sound sensitivity cannot be cured but it can be managed in various ways such as:

Wearing hearing protection

Tinnitus and sound sensitivity can be triggered by excessively loud noises. By wearing hearing protection, the loudness can be reduced and the remaining healthy hair cells in the ear can be spared from damage.

Desensitization

Reintroducing everyday sounds as often as possible.

Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)

Hyperacusis is also closely related to tinnitus, especially since the symptoms overlap in terms of hearing high-frequency sounds. Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) is a treatment option for hyperacusis. This involves wearing specialized hearing devices called noise generators which can reduce one’s sensitivity to noise. As the ears become accustomed to the barely audible white noise, learning to hear over or ignore the triggering sound(s) is greatly possible. 

Medicine

While there are no specific medications that can directly cure hyperacusis, there are certain drugs that can help treat any underlying medical condition to help alleviate symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is commonly used to address anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and hyperacusis. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on restructuring an individual’s reactions to help them regain control over their condition.

Hyperacusis Risk Factors

Recreational and occupational noise exposure and noise-induced hearing loss are commonly tagged as major risk factors for hyperacusis.

Several studies have shown that professional musicians are more likely at risk to develop hyperacusis, especially those who are constantly exposed to prolonged periods of loud sounds.

Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Hyperacousis Topics

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Are you ready to hear better?

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.

Hearing Experts in Sugar Land, TX

Hyperacusis may not be a life threatening hearing disorder, but it can take a toll on life, straining social relationships, impeding your work, and adding unnecessary fatigue to daily activities. S

Fort Bend Hearing provides comprehensive preventative, diagnostic and rehabilitation hearing services for pediatric and adult patients. If you think that you or a loved one may be experiencing hyperacusis, it’s best to schedule a checkup with an audiologist to get to the bottom of your hearing-related concerns.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment!