What is Hyperacusis?

Hearing loss can affect people in different ways. The type and severity of the hearing loss can impact how it affects people.

One impact of hearing loss can be an increased sensitivity to sounds. These sounds may not cause any issues for other people. This condition is known as hyperacusis.

What is Hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is a condition of hearing loss that impacts how you hear and perceive sounds. If everyday sounds seem much louder than they are, you may have hyperacusis. In some cases, hearing certain sounds may be painful.

Just like with hearing loss, hyperacusis can affect people in different ways. Some people find it very difficult to live with. For others, it’s just a minor inconvenience. People with severe sound sensitivity may withdraw socially.

Symptoms of Hyperacusis

The symptoms of hyperacusis include heightened sensitivity to sounds. Certain sounds that may trigger this sound sensitivity are: 

  • Dogs barking
  • Car engines
  • Coins jingling
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Someone chewing

Additional symptoms of hyperacusis may include: 

  • Ear pain
  • Annoyance

What Causes Hyperacusis?

There are different causes of hyperacusis. Exposure to a sudden, loud noise can cause hyperacusis. Hyperacusis may also be a symptom of certain medical conditions, including:

  • Acoustic shock
  • An adverse reaction to medication
  • Endolymphatic hydrops
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Head trauma
  • Lyme disease
  • Stress

Hyperacusis Treatment Options 

Because there are a number of causes of hyperacusis, treatment options are also varied. Where the hyperacusis is a symptom of an underlying medical condition, treating the condition can help the hyperacusis.

For people, hyperacusis can seriously impact their quality of life. In these cases, a referral to a hearing care clinic is normal. The hearing clinic will be able to provide therapy to help manage the symptoms of hyperacusis.

Often, treatment will involve gradually re-introducing certain sounds. Known as sound therapy, it helps to desensitize sufferers to certain noises. This can then help them resume more normal day to day activities. In some cases, your hearing specialist may opt for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as a hyperacusis treatment option.

The sound sensitivities that result from hyperacusis can cause sufferers to avoid loud environments. This can include social environments, such as restaurants or cafes. Unfortunately, this can lead to social isolation which can impact your overall mental health. Seeking treatment options from your hearing healthcare specialist can minimize the impact on your quality of life.

Can Hearing Aids Help Hyperacusis?

If hyperacusis is the result of a hearing loss, hearing aids may seem counterintuitive. If you are experiencing sound sensitivity, wouldn’t increasing your ability to hear make it worse?

Using hearing aids will make hearing less of an effort. Straining to hear can put you under quite a bit of stress. Stress can in turn trigger hyperacusis. In this case, hearing aids could help!

Modern hearing aids also include a range of features designed to fit your unique hearing needs. If you have hyperacusis and hearing loss, it’s worth speaking to your hearing healthcare practitioner about hearing aid features that can help.

Have a Question? Need Help? Contact Us Today!

If you have hyperacusis and wear hearing aids, it’s important to stay on top of their maintenance. Keeping your hearing aid devices in good working order will help you hear well. For information on hearing aid maintenance tips and best practices, please click here.

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