What Is Hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis is a condition that affects thousands of people worldwide each year. Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder related to auditory stimulation that can only be properly diagnosed by a qualified audiologist. It is described as a heightened sensitivity to everyday sounds. If you are suffering from hyperacusis, you may find that it’s extremely disruptive to your everyday life. You may find that you are so disturbed by environmental sounds that it’s difficult to focus. Additionally, you may notice that you’re having a hard time communicating with people due to the fact that background noise is so disruptive.

Hyperacusis may interfere with all aspects of your life. Your relationships may become strained, or you may find yourself having difficulty at work due to a lack of focus and constant disruptions. In addition, hyperacusis can cause mental health concerns such as stress and anxiety. Oftentimes, people with severe hyperacusis can not even function normally at home due to the fact that sounds are so disruptive. Things such as vacuuming or running the dishwasher may be so loud and disruptive that it can cause you to shy away from daily tasks.

Though hyperacusis is can be a very disruptive and even debilitating condition, it is one that can be treated. While there is currently no cure for hyperacusis, certain treatment options can be highly effective. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of hyperacusis and what you can do to lessen the strain it has on your life.

What Are the Different Kinds of Hyperacusis?

While there is some debate about the different kinds of hyperacusis and how to categorize them, it is generally accepted that there are 4 different types. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, those four types are:

  1. Loudness Hyperacusis: This is when sounds that should be tolerable are perceived as loud and disruptive.

  2. Annoyance Hyperacusis: This is characterized by an emotional reaction to sounds that is often associated with feelings of annoyance.

 3. Pain Hyperacusis: This type of hyperacusis is necessarily associated with pain. Typically, it is described as a sharp or aching pain that is often felt around the jaw, ear, or neck. In addition, some people may feel a fullness in their ears that causes pain.

 4. Fear Hyperacusis: This type of hyperacusis is often associated with a feeling of stress or anxiety. Because individuals with this condition are so bothered by sound, they may anticipate it and avoid situations that involve outside noise. Unfortunately, this can often lead to isolation.

What Are The Causes of Hyperacusis?

Unfortunately, experts don’t yet know exactly what causes hyperacusis. It is something that can gradually develop over time, or it can happen very suddenly. While the exact cause of hyperacusis is not known, it is presumed that it is caused by the same factors which cause many other kinds of hearing disruptions, such as tinnitus or hearing loss. In particular, there are several conditions and environmental factors that can increase your risk of developing hyperacusis. Some of them are as follows:

  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Ménière’s disease
  • Migraines
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
  • Damage to the inner ear
  • Viral infections
  • Certain medications
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Can Hyperacusis Be Treated?

While there is currently no cure for hyperacusis, there are some treatments available that have proven to be highly effective. Some of the most effective treatments for hyperacusis are:

  • Treating The Infection: One of the most common reasons that hyperacusis occurs, especially when it has a sudden onset, is due to a viral infection. If this is the case, typically treating the infection will result in a reduction of hyperacusis. It may even disappear entirely.
  • Modifying Certain Medications: While it’s never advised that a stop a medication without consulting a medical professional, some medications may contribute to hyperacusis. If you’re suffering from hyperacusis and think that your medication might be causing the issue, be sure to consult with your doctor before making any changes.
  • Educational Counseling: A qualified audiologist can work with you in order to help you understand your triggers. There may be certain sounds that you’re particularly sensitive to or perhaps in particular frequencies. Once you are attuned to the kinds of sounds that are causing you the most distress, you can work to reduce your interaction with those sounds. Additionally, you may find that your stress and anxiety are lessened by knowing precisely what kinds of sounds are the most difficult to deal with.
  • Sound Therapy: Sound therapy can also be very helpful in treating hyperacusis. Again, for this treatment, it’s important to consult with an audiologist. Sound therapy can be used to retrain the brain’s auditory processing center by replacing the sounds of hyperacusis with a much softer sound. While it may take time for sound therapy to work, it has been shown to be very successful in the treatment of chronic hyperacusis.

If you or someone you love is suffering from hyperacusis, you know how much of a strain it can be on daily life. It may be difficult to perform tasks at home or at work and can cause stress and anxiety. However, remember that there is always hope, and medical knowledge of this condition is constantly progressing. If you are loving with hyperacusis, be sure to consult with an audiologist in order to learn more about the possible treatment options and begin taking your life back today.