What is hyperacusis? What are its symptoms and causes?

Posted by Nadia Winget on December 9th, 2021

Hyperacusis is a hearing condition that makes the sound seem louder than it really is. It can make certain sounds intolerable, painful, or even unbearable to listen to. Hyperacusis may also cause balance problems and headaches for some people. There are many different causes of hyperacusis, including ear infections, head injuries, ototoxic drugs, noise exposure (e.g., loud music), stress or anxiety disorders, Meniere\'s disease, and others.

What is hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is a hearing condition that makes the sound seem louder than it really is. A person with hyperacusis will often complain that sounds seem too loud or painful. People with hyperacusis can often feel anxious, irritable, angry, agitated or depressed for no apparent reason at all times of the day. Others may have difficulty concentrating because they keep trying to avoid sounds. Two types of hyperacusis exist: painful and non-painful. The two conditions are similar in that they both make certain frequencies seem louder than before. However, the causes of each type differ drastically from one another.

What are the symptoms of hyperacusis?

The common symptoms of hyperacusis include:

  • Extreme sensitivity to noise
  • painful response when exposed to certain sounds.
  • Distorted or muffled hearing in some cases.
  • Lack of sleep due to the need to escape from sound at night.
  • Emotional distress such as anxiety, irritability, and depression, which is caused by hyperacusis, is known as \"sensory overload\" and is a common symptom of both hyperacusis and mysophobia.
  • Other symptoms may include (but are not limited to): nausea, increased heart rate or blood pressure, headaches, light-headedness or fainting spells, loss of balance and dizziness.
  • These are the most prominent signs that can be observed by other people. However, there are also internal effects that cannot be easily detected, such as changes in brain waves (EEG), decreased cognitive function (brain fog), and memory impairment. Hyperacusis causes stress on the central nervous system even without external sound stimulus because it creates an environment where noise is always present due to increased neural activity from constant exposure to certain sounds.

What are the causes of hyperacusis?

Causes of hyperacusis with pain may include:

  • Meniere\'s disease.
  • Acoustic trauma or noise-induced hearing loss.
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ).

Causes of hyperacusis without pain may include:

  • Cervical spine disorders such as spondylosis and disc bulges or protrusions lead to narrowing of the cervical canals and intervertebral foramina. This causes an increased load on certain cranial nerves, which may result in auditory symptoms that are not necessarily accompanied by pain.
  • Central nervous system (CNS) conditions like migraines.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

How to reduce the risk of developing hyperacusis?

You can reduce the risk of getting hyperacusis by avoiding noise and wearing ear protection when potentially harmful sounds are present.

  • Earplugs
  • Noise-cancelling headphones
  • They use sound generators to protect their hearing while sleeping or attending live concerts without damaging their ears.

 

How to treat and manage hyperacusis?

There is no treatment for hyperacusis at this time. However, there are ways to reduce the severity of symptoms, including:

  • Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) replaces the sound in your tinnitus with a pleasant sound that reduces the perception of intensity and annoyance associated with it. This can be helpful in reducing pain levels related to hyperacusis as well.
  • Desensitization therapies such as CI therapy have been shown to be effective for some individuals, but not all. It is not known why some individuals respond to this type of therapy while others do not.
  • Assistive devices are also very effective in reducing sensitivity levels by providing background noise for the ears, which makes other sounds tolerable. This can be helpful when working or living environments become difficult due to loud noises that cannot be controlled with habituation exercises over time.
  • Habituation therapies such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) have been shown to be successful at helping patients cope with hyperacusis symptoms, including pain associated with tinnitus and sound sensitivities.
  • There are also a variety of devices available for people with hyperacusis that emit white noise, pink noise, or brown noise, which can help mask certain sounds and make them more tolerable.
  • It is important to note that these treatments take a significant amount of time and effort on behalf of the individual receiving treatment, so it may take some time to see results.

 

Prevention tips for people with hypersensitivity to sound or noise sensitivity

People with noise sensitivity should stay away from loud environments such as rock concerts, nightclubs, and construction sites. People who are hypersensitive to sound should wear earplugs when attending events or going to places with lots of noise. This will help reduce the volume levels in their ears so they can enjoy themselves without experiencing any pain or discomfort caused by exposure to loud noises.

It is important for people suffering from these conditions to avoid listening to music through headphones at very high volumes because this has been known to cause permanent damage that could lead them down a path towards more serious issues like hyperacusis, which makes every day sound unbearably noisy and painful.

Hyperacusis is a very real thing that needs to be addressed. We need to protect ourselves from getting it by taking precautions, including learning how sound can affect our hearing, wearing earplugs in loud situations, and making sure we are not amplifying sounds too much through headphones or speakers. If you think you might have hyperacusis or if your ears start hurting after listening to certain tones for an extended period of time, get help immediately so the condition doesn’t worsen, and get hearing aids in Sri Lanka. You can also get hearing aid batteries online in Sri Lanka if you run out of them, and usually hearing aid prices in Sri Lanka are reasonable. It will take some work on our part to make this world safer, but everyone has a role to play in doing their part.

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Nadia Winget

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Nadia Winget
Joined: June 2nd, 2021
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