Hyperacusis Sound Sensitivity
HyperacusisWhile sensitivity to sound is something many people suffer from, hyperacusis is rare, only affecting 1 in 50,000 people. Learn more about this life-altering hearing disorder, its symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment options to help yourself or a loved one struggling with the condition.
What is Hyperacusis?Hyperacusis is a condition that results in an increased sensitivity to sound. This can be due to problems with either the vestibular system or the cochlea and can lead to significant impairment in quality of life.
There are two different types of hyperacusis: vestibular and cochlear. Vestibular hyperacusis is caused by problems with the balance system, while cochlear hyperacusis is caused by damage to the cochlea (the organ of hearing).
Types of Hyperacusis
In addition to these two types of hyperacusis are four other categories: functional, traumatic, vestibular, and central.
- Functional hyperacusis: is the most common type and is caused by exposure to loud noises over a long period of time. This can result in a gradual or sudden decrease in tolerance to sound.
- Traumatic hyperacusis: is caused by an injury to the ear, such as a blow to the head or exposure to a very loud noise. The injury can damage the cochlea or the auditory nerve, resulting in increased sensitivity to sound.
- Vestibular hyperacusis: is caused by problems with the vestibular system, which controls balance and movement. This can lead to a sensitivity to certain sounds that make you feel dizzy or off balance.
- Central hyperacusis: is a rare type that is caused by damage to the brainstem or central nervous system. It can lead to a sensitivity to all sounds, even those that are soft or moderate in volume.
Causes and Risk Factors of HyperacusisThere are many potential causes of hyperacusis, and it can develop in any age group. Some of the most common risk factors for developing hyperacusis include exposure to loud noise, earwax build-up, Meniere's disease and TMJ disorders.
People with hyperacusis may find that everyday sounds are painfully loud and can suffer from severe anxiety and isolation as a result. This can greatly impair their quality of life and make it difficult to do things that others take for granted, like going to the grocery store or attending social events.
How Does Hyperacusis Affect Individuals?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best way to manage hyperacusis will vary from person to person. However, some strategies that may help include:
What Can Be Done to Manage Hyperacusis?
- Wearing ear plugs or muffs when exposed to loud sounds
- Avoiding overly noisy environments
- Practicing sound therapy, which involves gradually exposing oneself to louder and louder sounds over time