Hyperacusis: A Disorder That Turns Everyday Sounds Into Discomfort And Pain

Date February 1, 2018 17:08

What is hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder when certain sounds may seem unbearable to a person who has it. In other words, this condition makes it difficult to deal with everyday sounds. Hyperacusis develops from a problem in the way the brain perceives noises. Unfortunately, the disorder usually results in pain and discomfort.

People with hyperacusis have trouble tolerating sounds which don’t seem loud to others. These sounds typically include the following:

    • a running faucet;
    • a kitchen appliance like a refrigerator;
    • a loud conversation;
    • a car engine.

Some individuals are slightly bothered by these noises, but others develop severe symptoms such as problems with balance and seizures. Hyperacusis is a relatively rare condition, but it can affect anyone. Most people with hyperacusis also have tinnitus, a condition when a person suffers from a buzzing and ringing in the ear.

Causes of hyperacusis

People are usually not born with this condition but may develop it at some point. Common causes of hyperacusis include the following:

  • ear damage from toxins or medications;
  • Lyme disease;
  • head injury;
  • viral infections that affect the inner ear of facial nerve;
  • Tay-Sachs disease;
  • certain types of epilepsy;
  • migraine headaches;
  • depression;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • valium dependence.

A loud noise can also lead to hyperacusis. For example, a single loud gunshot can trigger this disorder.

When to see a doctor

If you suspect you develop hyperacusis, talk to your doctor. You should seek an evaluation by an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor). He or she will look closely at your ears, ask about the medical history and give you a hearing test.

The treatment depends on the cause of the condition. In some cases, the sound sensitivity may improve on its own. There is no specific treatment for this hearing disorder, but there are some ways to ease the symptoms. For example, sound therapy can retrain your auditory processing center in the brain to accept everyday sounds.

Source: WebMD, American Academy of Otolaryngology, Better Health

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This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.