Hyperacusis – Symptoms, Types, Causes & Treatment.Audiology by Accent
If everyday sounds bother you, you might have hyperacusis. People who have this condition are very sensitive to regular sounds in the environment. Hyperacusis can negatively impact many areas of your life and can harm your career and social life. Suffering from this condition can make simple activities such as watching television, vacuuming, or talking to friends nearly impossible. In some cases, people who suffer from hyperacusis are unable to tolerate the sounds of their voices or those of their loved ones. If you think that you might have this condition, getting help from an audiologist in Gainesville might offer some relief.
Symptoms of hyperacusis
Hyperacusis is a condition that is marked by a high degree of sensitivity to sound. People who suffer from this condition might feel as if the volume of normal sounds is painful and unbearable. Sounds such as crying babies, breaking glass, and alarms can cause you to experience anxiety and pain. Some people with the condition also feel physical pain or pressure in their ears when they hear noises. Tinnitus commonly accompanies the sound sensitivity, and some people lose their ability to handle sudden volume changes. Hyperacusis has an incidence rate of one out of every 50,000 people. However, loud noise exposure is leading to an increase in its occurrence.
Types of hyperacusis
Hyperacusis can take two forms, including vestibular and cochlear. Vestibular hyperacusis is less common and can cause dizziness, nausea, and problems with balance when specific sounds occur. Cochlear hyperacusis is the more common type and causes ear pain, annoyance, and a general sensitivity to normal sounds. Both types can cause social isolation, depression, stress, anxiety, and fear of normal sounds or phonophobia.
Hyperacusis is not the same thing as recruitment, which is a condition that exaggerates a person’s perception of sounds that fall in the range of frequencies of their hearing loss. Recruitment can cause certain loud sounds to be uncomfortable. Hyperacusis, by contrast, makes all sounds seem too loud. An audiologist can distinguish between hyperacusis and recruitment with a loudness discomfort test.
What are the causes of hyperacusis?
Hyperacusis can develop in people of all ages. It can also impact your hearing in one or both ears. This condition can emerge suddenly or develop gradually. Some of the causes of hyperacusis include the following:
- Cochlear damage from loud noise exposure
- Lyme disease
- Head injury
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Williams syndrome
- Tay-Sachs disease
- Viral infections of the facial nerve or inner ear
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Damage caused by medications or toxins
- Airbag deployment
- Temporomandibular joint disease
- Mulitple sclerosis
- Meniere’s disease
- Cerebral palsy
Experts are uncertain about why hyperacusis develops in some people. However, they believe that it can be caused because of damage to the auditory nerve, an issue with the central processing system, a problem with the protective hearing mechanisms of the ear, or damage to the facial nerve.
Treatment for hyperacusis
There is no known cure for hyperacusis. However, certain therapies can help people who suffer from it to cope with sounds and reduce their sensitivity to them. Sound therapy can help the auditory processing center of the brain to treat daily sounds as normal once again. During sound therapy, people wear devices that generate narrow-band, soft noise. Regularly using the device can help to rebuild your tolerance to noises over a period of six to 18 months. To be effective, sound therapy requires counseling and directions from an audiologist.
While ear protection can help to muffle sounds, avoiding them can make you more sensitive. Typically, audiologists advise their patients not to use ear protection outside of industrial environments. If hyperacusis results because of a different medical condition, both the hyperacusis and the other condition will be treated simultaneously.
Counseling to help you deal with anxiety and fear related to hyperacusis can be beneficial. This might include cognitive-behavioral therapy or other therapeutic modalities. Counseling can help you to change your behavioral or thinking patterns so that sound sensitivity will have less of an impact on your life.
Get help from Audiology by Accent
If you are suffering from a heightened sensitivity to sound, get help from the professional audiologists at Audiology by Accent today. We have locations in Gainesville and Lake City, Florida as well as at The Village at Gainesville – A Santa Fe Senior Living Community. We can be reached at (352) 271-5373. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.