Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder that makes people extremely susceptible to sounds. Normal sounds seem unbearable, such as a running faucet, a kitchen appliance (refrigerator, dishwasher), car engine, or even a loud conversation. While some people are only mildly bothered, others can have severe symptoms including seizures or loss of balance.
Most people with hyperacusis also experience tinnitus. Although it is a hearing disorder, most people have normal hearing.
- Head injury
- Damage to ears from medications or toxins
- Using valium regularly
- A viral infection that affects the inner ear or facial nerve (Bell’s palsy)
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- Migraine headaches
- Lyme disease
- Tay-Sachs disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Ménière’s Disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Being around loud noises can lead to hyperacusis over time. However, being exposed to a single loud event can also trigger the condition.
People with hyperacusis may be tempted to wear earplugs to decrease the noise levels of their surroundings. However, over time, this makes symptoms worse; when the earplugs are eventually removed, noises sound even louder.
If your symptoms don’t go away on their own, your doctor may recommend sound desensitization therapy. This consists of working with a specialist who will help you deal with sound and noises. You will listen to very quiet noises for a certain period of time every day and gradually build up to louder sounds. It could take 6 months to a year to get the full benefit of this therapy.
Others have seen good results with acupuncture and relaxation exercises. Others have used an experimental treatment called auditory integration therapy (AIT), which is often used in autism treatment. Certain medications can help to manage the stress the condition causes.
A new procedure called Round and Oval Window Reinforcement has been helping people with hyperacusis as well.