Hyperacusis is a condition that causes an intolerance or sensitivity to everyday noises. It can vary quite a lot in severity, from a mild annoyance to something people find very uncomfortable and difficult to live with.
When exposed to certain or loud sounds, people with hyperacusis may:
Try to block their ears or move away from the noise
Feel sounds are uncomfortably loud
Be fearful of hearing loud sounds
Feel anxious or show signs of stress such as increased pulse rate and perspiration
It is not clear why exactly hyperacusis happens, but it has been associated with other conditions, such as:
Bell's palsy (facial weakness or paralysis on one side)
It has also been associated with the side effects of certain medications.
We recommend that you see your medical professional if you're experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of hyperacusis. They will examine your ears and ask you some questions about your symptoms, as well as your medical history.
You could also see an audiology professional, who will perform a hearing test to see how well you're hearing (although some people won't necessarily experience any hearing loss), and what kind of sound levels affect you.
Treatment and prevention
There aren't any specific treatments for hyperacusis but you may be treated for any underlying causes. There are also methods available to adapt your tolerance to sounds or help you cope with your symptoms. These could include:
Counselling and support groups
Learning relaxation or calming techniques
Sound desensitisation therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy
It's also important that you don't wear ear plugs and that you avoid any situations where you know sounds will bother you, as this can make your ears more sensitive and make your symptoms worse in the long run.