Causes and Treatment for Hyperacusis

Causes and Treatment for Hyperacusis

Sound is an integral part of our daily experiences, but for some people, the volume can become increasingly overwhelming, leading to a condition known as Hyperacusis. This condition is not uncommon, and because there is no diagnostic test, many people suffer from it without even knowing.

In this blog, we will remove the cloud of misery that shrouds Hyperacusis and its causes and tell you the treatment options, thereby shedding light on the condition that may lie undetected. If you suspect that you or a loved one suffer from Hyperacusis, then the information here is what you need. So, first things first.

What is Hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is a condition where the patient experiences increased sensitivity to sounds, making them seem louder and more intrusive than they are. It is also known as the reduced tolerance to sound, as everyday sounds often are nerve-racking and loud to the person suffering from this. To them, it is as if the volume dial has been turned up excessively, causing discomfort and, in some cases, pain.

Hyperacusis is sometimes linked to buzzing and ringing of the ear (Tinnitus) and distortions of sounds, and in most cases, both ears are affected. But this isn’t always the case, as only one ear can be affected.

Causes of Hyperacusis

1. Hearing Loss

One common cause of Hyperacusis is a previous or reoccurring hearing loss. When the brain receives reduced signals from the auditory system, it may become more sensitive to other sounds, amplifying their perceived intensity.

2. Head Injuries or Trauma

Trauma, such as a head injury, can impact the auditory processing centers in the brain, leading to changes in how sound is perceived. Hyperacusis may occur as a result of such trauma.

3. Loud Noise Exposure

Prolonged exposure to loud noises, whether in the workplace or recreational environments like outdoor concerts, are contributing causes of Hyperacusis. Individuals working in industries with high noise levels or those participating in loud recreational activities are at a higher risk of developing Hyperacusis.

4. Certain Medical Conditions

Hyperacusis can be associated with various medical conditions, like Bell’s palsy, migraines, and chronic fatigue syndrome. The interconnected nature of the auditory and nervous systems can increase sensitivity to sound.

5. Medication Side Effects

Some medications, particularly those with ototoxic effects, can contribute to auditory hypersensitivity. People undergoing certain medical treatments should be mindful of potential side effects related to their hearing.

Treatment Options for Hyperacusis

1. Auditory Retraining Therapy (ART)

ART is a therapeutic approach to helping the auditory system get used to everyday sounds. It involves gradually exposing individuals to low background noise levels to help retrain the brain’s response to sound stimuli.

2. Counseling and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Counselling and CBT can be valuable in helping people manage the emotional and psychological aspects of Hyperacusis. By addressing the associated anxiety and stress, these therapies contribute to a more wholesome treatment approach.

3. Sound Therapy

Sound therapy involves introducing low-level, soothing background noises to create a more balanced auditory environment. This can help the individuals gradually become accustomed to various sounds without triggering discomfort.

4. Wearing Hearing Protection

As a preventive measure, wearing hearing protection in noisy environments can mitigate the risk of Hyperacusis. This is particularly relevant for individuals working in industries with high noise levels or those engaged in loud recreational activities.

5. Medication Management

Medications may sometimes be prescribed to relieve the symptoms associated with Hyperacusis. These may include anti-anxiety medications or those addressing specific underlying medical conditions contributing to auditory hypersensitivity.

6. Avoidance and Environmental Modifications

Identifying and avoiding triggers is an essential aspect of managing Hyperacusis. Adjusting the living or work environment, such as using curtains, carpets, or acoustic panels, can help reduce the impact of certain sounds.

7. Hearing Aids with Sound Masking

For individuals with Hyperacusis and co-existing hearing loss, hearing aids with sound masking features can be beneficial. These devices amplify softer sounds while using the masking feature to reduce the impact of louder sounds.

Though challenging, hyperacusis can be effectively managed with various treatment options and strategies. Understanding the underlying causes, targeted therapies, and lifestyle modifications make all the difference in treatment and management. Contact us today for more information or to schedule a comprehensive hearing exam.