very rare and extremely debilitating hearing disorder characterized by unusual intolerance to ordinary environmental sounds

Hyperacusis is a hearing health problem where people become more sensitive to some sounds for certain frequencies and volumes. This can make everyday sounds such as a car, dishwasher or refrigerator sound very loud. It is usually very difficult to tolerate and can be uncomfortable or even painful for people experiencing it.

Art by a victim of hyperacusis

Symptoms Edit

The increasing sensitivity of the ears caused by hyperacusis is usually painful for many people. Not only can it negatively effect the everyday lives of people experiencing it, it can for some make it very difficult and even not possible to do their everyday jobs and take care of their responsibilities. There are many symptoms experienced by those with hyperacusis.

  • Annoyance or pain caused by noise that sounds normal to other people. Often quiet sounds are not a problem whereas normal conversations can be too loud
  • Low sounds can still be too loud
  • Dizziness and nausea from loud sounds
  • Tinnitus affects a large portion - up to 89% - of those experiencing hyperacusis. Loud sounds can make tinnitus for these people worse

Causes Edit

Similarly to other hearing problems, hyperacusis can occur suddenly or gradually over time and is a problem that can affect people of all different ages in one or both ears. Again, like other forms of hearing problems, there are a variety of possible causes ranging from exposure to noise and other diseases.

  • Extremely loud one-time sounds such as an explosion
  • Head injury or damage such as caused by a fall or slap
  • Long periods of exposure to loud sound
  • Ear surgery and other medical procedures
  • Diseases such as lyme disease and some medications

Although these are the main causes of hyeracusis and can be seen as causes related to most hearing problems, there are other less common, possible causes such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Treatment Edit

Hyperacusis cannot always be fully cured, but for most patients the symptoms get better with time and treatment. Patients will need to learn to use hearing protection against sounds which are very loud, but to not use these in everyday situations. Protecting the ears too much will make the symptoms worse instead of better.

  • Sound therapy is a popular form of treatment that is usually used to treat tinnitus. It involves using a noise-generator to put sound into the ears at a soft level for periods of time throughout the day in order to build tolerance to the pain caused by hyperacusis and to make the ears hear in a normal way again.
  • Wear hearing protection in spaces with loud sounds to avoid pain
  • Short term medication
  • Counseling to better understand Hyperacusis and to learn not to overprotect the ears.