What Is It? Symptoms and Causes of Hyperacusis
Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder involving the perception of sound that is characterized by hypersensitivity and a low tolerance for everyday sounds, which often results in physical discomfort and emotional issues. Unlike hearing loss, hyperacusis lowers a person's threshold for what could be considered loud noise. For example, loudness may be experienced with certain noises you hear regularly, such as running water, cars, or other specific sounds that trigger a reaction. The prevalence of hyperacusis is rare and it may occur in a typical person who doesn't find themselves bothered by other sounds, only particular sounds. Additional symptoms include:
1) A fear of sound, which is an emotional reaction that may develop over time in a person due to the waning quality of life associated with their intolerance for noise. Of course, this can impact their behavior, mood, and other mental issues.
2) Social withdrawal, which can develop from dealing with the uncomfortable loudness levels of the outside world. This symptom may also be accompanied by poor social skills, mood changes related to loneliness, and strange behaviors.
3) Irritation, annoyance, and pain. These symptoms occur in great frequency for hyperacusis patients who are constantly around sounds that cause physical discomfort. Seizures may also accompany this disorder and those who have this issue may experience tinnitus as well.
In regards to the causes behind this condition, hyperacusis can be caused by several issues, including:
- Damage to the cochlea and auditory system caused by specific sounds like explosions, loud music, and airbag deployment
- Chronic inner ear infections
- Loudness recruitment
- Lyme disease
- Migraine headaches
- Acoustic damage
- Williams syndrome
- A head injury
- Depression, or the treatment of depression with medications like serotonin-inhibitors
- Bell's Palsy
- Adverse reactions to various medications
Keep in mind that these are just a few of the many causes of this condition to keep in mind when you seek out further insight and help for your disorder.
How Do You Treat Hyperacusis?
Often, individuals who are dealing with this problem are seeking out new ways to tackle the dysfunction and cope with normal environmental sounds, such as using earplugs or earmuffs to improve their quality of life and decrease the loudness of sounds around them. Although this may work for those who are not dealing with severe hyperacusis, it is not the best way to deal with hyperacusis.
Hyperacusis treatment will often begin with a hearing test at a clinic to diagnose the condition (although it is important to note that those with increased sensitivity to sounds will not necessarily show signs of hearing loss). You may also meet with a clinician to describe your experience of hyperacusis and to learn more about what causes are behind your disorder. These causes will often be treated first to see if you experience any relief from the loudness of external noises.
If the hyperacusis is not treated by treating the potential injuries you've experienced, you may receive a recommendation to use sound generators (which are machines that look like hearing aids and produce steady, pure tones as a form of sound desensitization) or retraining therapy, which is a combination of desensitization therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to help you gain support for the emotional symptoms and help you learn new skills and coping mechanisms for any sadness related to your hyperacusis.
While the treatment of tinnitus and hyperacusis may not involve counseling, it is important that you reach out to a counselor like a therapist or a psychologist to help you cope with your hyperacusis-related symptoms in a safe place. However, individual counseling is not the only way that you can receive compassion and help. You may also want to look into group counseling if you are someone who wants to benefit from counseling in a safe environment with others who may be dealing with hyperacusis. Either way, therapy can be a great way to improve your quality of life until you experience the relief you need.
While hyperacusis is a difficult condition to live with, this does not mean that hope is lost on experiencing a normal hearing experience once again. If you suffer from hyperacusis, use the guide above to learn more about what the definition of hyperacusis is and how you can receive help for it.