29th March 2018

What is Hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is an increased sensitivity to everyday sounds. It’s a condition that stems from the way the brain’s central auditory processing centre interprets noise. For sufferers, it can be painful and uncomfortable.

Everyday sounds like running water, the noise of a car engine or dishwasher, even walking on dry leaves or shuffling paper can be intolerable. And the higher the frequency, the worse the condition often appears.

As one might suspect, the quality of life for individuals with hyperacusis can be greatly compromised. For those with a severe intolerance to sound, it is difficult and sometimes impossible to function in an everyday environment with all its ambient noise. Because social situations are often excruciatingly loud, hyperacusis can contribute to social isolation, phonophobia (fear of normal sounds) and depression.

Relation to Tinnitus

Hyperacusis is also strongly associated with tinnitus, a condition commonly referred to as ringing in the ears. Indeed, it is possible to have tinnitus and hyperacusis at the same time.

Thankfully, it’s a condition that is quite rare, affecting around one in 50,000 people. But it can strike any age group and be experienced in one or both ears. Generally, hyperacusis results from developing a natural intolerance to sound, rather than something that we are born with.

Causes

Typically it can be caused by:

  • Head injuries
  • Ear damage from toxins or medication
  • Lyme disease
  • Airbag deployment
  • Viral infections involving the inner ear or facial nerve (Bell’s palsy)
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome

A variety of neurological conditions may also be associated with hyperacusis, including:

  • • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  •  •Chronic fatigue syndrome
  •  •Tay-Sachs disease
  •  •Some forms of epilepsy
  •  •Valium dependence
  • • Depression
  • • Migraine headaches

Hyperacusis is also found in brain-injured children, some autistic children and those with cerebral palsy.

Diagnosis

The likelihood of suffering from hyperacusis is very rare. However, if you suspect that you may be showing symptoms, or have an undue sensitivity to sounds initially it would be worth arranging a hearing test. This will usually indicate normal sound sensitivity and whether there is any deviation noted. If the test shows any abnormality, however, we would advise you to seek further medical attention. If you would like to arrange a hearing test go to https://www.hearingcarecentres.co.uk/services/hearing-tests/

Treatment

Whilst there are no specific corrective surgical or medical treatments for hyperacusis, sound therapy can be used to retrain the brain’s auditory processing centre, so that it accepts everyday sounds.

This involves the use of a gentle noise-generating device, worn on the affected ear or ears. Sound therapy may take up to 12 months and usually improves sound tolerance.

For further information click http://www.entnet.org/content/hyperacusis-increased-sensitivity-everyday-sounds

What our clients say

Two members of my family have just received excellent advice and treatment at the Chichester Centre.

My husband for ear plugs advice and my 12 year old son, who has been suffering with excessive ear wax building up for the past year or so and being told by GP that can do nothing except keep putting drops in.

Within 15 minutes he had his ears safely unblocked, using micro suction and washing, something the GP said was not available. My son is like a different child and can actually hear again.

Thank You!

Mr J Llewellyn – Chichester patient