What is Hyperacusis?
Hyperacusis is a heightened sensitivity to everyday sounds that are loud, yet which are considered tolerable to most people. For example: Dishes clanging, keys jingling, a phone ringing, the house doorbell, a baby crying, a big truck driving by, or someone clapping. An individual with hyperacusis would find some of these sounds to be so uncomfortable that they avoid situations where there are bound to be loud sounds, such as eating at a busy restaurant or walking down a busy street. Hyperacusis means being so bothered by loud sounds, that it interferes with your life.
Symptoms of Hyperacusis?
Pain or discomfort in one or both ears, in response to loud sound
Feelings of anxiety or panic when there are loud sounds
A sensation of your ear thumping, or of your ear being “full” or “stuffed”
Ringing in your ears, or similar sensations, in response to loud sound
Social isolation and other avoidant behaviour
Depression and/or anxiety
Possible causes of Hyperacusis?
In many cases, the cause is unknown, but in some cases hyperacusis has been associated with an injury to the head or ears, surgery on the jaw or face, prolonged exposure to loud noise or music, depression, and as a side effect of certain medications.
Treatments for Hyperacusis
Hyperacusis treatment can vary from individual to individual, but is always a gradual process, usually involving re-introducing oneself to loud sounds. Treatment plans are given by a licensed hearing professional or a physician.
Stress management can also play a role in treatment, as stress can make hyperacusis harder to tolerate. Thus, professionals will sometimes recommend exercise, meditation, or relaxing music.
Treatment for hyperacusis can be quite similar to treatment for tinnitus (ringing in the ears), as they both involve desensitizing oneself to certain sounds. Thus, tinnitus treatment programs, such as those that use Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, will often accept patients with hyperacusis. One can also look for tinnitus or hyperacusis support groups.
How is it diagnosed
Hyperacusis is diagnosed by completing a hearing assessment which includes a loudness discomfort portion of the test that is conducted by a licensed hearing professional.
If you feel as if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms mentioned and would like to confirm if you have hyperacusis, you can schedule a hearing assessment with one of our Canadian clinic locations through the link below: