What is Hyperacusis?
Hyperacusis which is also sometimes spelled Hyperacousis, is an increased sensitivity to noise, usually as a result of ear damage over a period of time; and this damage usually (but not exclusively) equated to extreme noisy environments.
It can for instance be the result of damage caused to the inner ear either by infection or by actual physical trauma inflicted. It can also be acquired because of damage to the brain or the neurological system.
An individual who suffers from severe Hyperacusis cannot tolerate levels of everyday noise which to most people would be quite acceptable.
Symptoms of Hyperacusis:
- The usual signs of this condition is ear pain – particularly in ‘noisy’ environments.
- Tinnitus sounds – Studies have shown that around 85% of people suffering from cochlear Hyperacusis – which is most common – also suffer from ringing ears.
- Particularly with Vestibular Hyperacusis; anxiety attacks, nausea, loss of balance or dizziness. Often an individual will clutch at some object for balance when a certain sound is heard.
- Anti-social behaviour or avoiding company is often attributed to the individual wishing to avoid embarrassing situations, which may be brought about by their adversity to simple low-level noises.
- Hypersensitive hearing. Everyday low-level sounds such as water running, a tap dripping, telephone ringing, chewing gum, doors closing, and quiet conversation can cause mild to severe irritation to someone with this condition.
- Pulsatile tinnitus which is recognised by the sound of blood rushing in time with the patients heartbeat, is exacerbated or magnified by someone with Hyperacausis.
- High blood pressure can be both a sign and a cause as anxiety leading to high blood pressure can result in this condition.
- Hyperacusis and hearing loss very often go together, sometimes along with a continuous ringing in the ears.
- Exposure to loud noise over a prolonged period (Over 85 dBs) can result in Hyperacusis. However sudden loud noise such as a pistol shot or explosive of any kind near the ear can also cause permanent damage.
- Ear infections can also lead to permanent damage which can leave the individual with Hyperacusis.
- Genetics can also lead to this problem as it could be a problem that ‘runs in the family’ owing to some part of the inner ear not developing properly for instance
- Drugs or medication can also lead to this problem which is often cited as a ‘side effect’ of drugs such as PCP (Angel-Dust) or Ototoxic drugs such as some antibiotics.
- Head trauma, brain surgery or damage to the head of any kind, needless to say can lead to problems with this condition.
- Other medical conditions such as Epilepsy, Lyme disease, Depression, Migraine headaches, or PTSD can also lead to ‘H’.
- Allergies can be another cause of of this super-sensitive hearing. Often a dose of antihistamine will offer the solution.
Solutions – Cures:
As with the tinnitus condition, there is no ‘one size fits all’ cure for Hyperacusis. Each case must be investigated and the proper course of action taken.
The tinnitus retraining therapy – originally used to treat tinnitus, has been used successfully for ‘hyper’ sufferers. The use of low-level broadband sounds being utilised in measured form to de-sensitise the patient over a period of time.
Other alternative methods include Hyperacusis sound therapy, Hyperacusis hearing aids, Medicinal (legal) cannabis resin or oil, some diet changes such as removing fats, sugars, and salts or in a nutshell, most processed foods or snacks!
What about surgery?
Unless it has been determined by a medical examination that the root cause is a problem that surgery can rectify, such as repairable inner ear damage, then there is generally no 1 recognised cure for Hyperacusis, however…some of the alternative methods discussed previously have undoubtedly been efficacious, according to the many folks who will line up to testify to their cured condition!
Much of the advice given to tinnitus sufferers is also relevant to people with Hyperacusis – check out the articles on this site for further information in that regard.