By Medicover Hospitals / 20 Feb 2021
Sensitive to noise is a hearing disorder that makes it difficult to manage everyday sounds. You might also hear it called sound or noise sensitivity. Sensitive to noise in medical term known as Hyperacusis. If you have it, some sounds can sound unbearably loud, even if the surrounding people don't seem to notice them. Hyperacusis is rare. Most people who suffer from it also have another condition called tinnitus, which is a ringing or ringing in your ear. Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder. But many people who have it also have normal hearing.
- What is Sensitive to noise?
What is Sensitive to noise?
Sensitive to noise or Hyperacusis is a disorder of the perception of loudness and affects about one in 50,000 people. Loudness perception is the recognition of sound that correlates with the physical characteristic of its intensity. When you hear a sound, your brain may exaggerate the intensity of that sound. This hypersensitivity to noise can make sounds appear louder than they are. Often, the most disturbing sounds are sudden, high-pitched noises. People with hyperacusis are extremely sensitive to loud noises that include high-pitched squealings, such as the brakes of a car or the sound of a microwave opening. Many patients with hyperacusis also experience pain in the inner ear or a feeling of fullness (pressure) in the ears. Here are four categories of hyperacusis:
Other types of noise sensitivity include recruitment, hypersensitive hearing to specific frequencies, and misophonia. Auditory recruitment is an unusually rapid increase in sound volume and reflects dysfunction of hair cells. Misophonia is described as severe sensitivity to specific soft sounds with an associated emotional response.
- Hyperacusis of loudness
- Discomfort hyperacusis
- Painful hyperacusis
- Fear hyperacusis
Hyperacusis affects people of all ages and can affect your hearing in one or both ears. Usually, people are not born with this rare disease. It can develop over a while or emerge quite suddenly. Causes of hyperacusis include, but are not limited to:
Sometimes children with autism or cerebral palsy also suffer from hyperacusis, and this can occur in children with brain damage.
Although experts are not sure exactly why hyperacusis occurs, theories include a dysfunction of the hearing protection mechanisms of the ear, damage to part of the auditory nerve, a problem with the central processing system, or auditory nerve dysfunction.
- Exposure to loud noises (damaging the cochlea)
- Head injury
- Can often be resolved with lifestyle changes
- Lyme disease
- Bell's palsy
- Tay-Sachs disease
- Williams Syndrome
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- The systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
- Viral infections affecting the inner ear or facial nerve
- Ear damage from toxins or drugs
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Airbag deployment
- Ménière's disease
- Multiple sclerosis
If you think you have hyperacusis, you will see an ENT or otolaryngologist. They'll ask you questions about your medical history, take a close look at your ears, and give you a hearing test to confirm it.
Treatment for hyperesthesia focuses on addressing the underlying cause. For example, if the hyperesthesia is caused by a vitamin B-12 deficiency, B-12 supplements will be prescribed. After treating the underlying one, most people will find that the symptoms of hyperesthesia are eliminated.
If there is an underlying problem in the brain or spinal cord, it will be assessed and treated accordingly. Anticonvulsant drugs can be given to people with seizures. Anti-anxiety medications can be given to people who have fear and anxiety about their condition.
If you are having an episode of hyperesthesia, lie down in a dark room with no stimuli. This should help the symptoms pass more quickly. Stay calm, do deep breathing exercises, and know that the symptoms will go away within hours.
Physiotherapy can be helpful for people with hyperesthesia.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is known to be effective in reducing unpleasant responses caused by any stimulus.
It is recommended that people with hyperesthesia eat a balanced diet rich in antioxidants.
Although the exact cause of hyperacusis is unknown, you may experience this condition due to damage to your hearing due to excessive noise exposure. To avoid this and other hearing problems such as hearing loss and tinnitus, there are several steps you can take to make sure that your hearing is protected. These include:
- Try listening to music at a lower volume for shorter periods
- Wear hearing protection - for example at concerts or work if necessary
- Be aware that prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 decibels can damage your hearing.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Misophonia, or "hatred or dislike of sound," is characterized by a selective sensitivity to specific sounds accompanied by emotional distress and even anger and behavioral responses such as avoidance. Sensitivity to sound can be common among people with OCD, anxiety disorders, and Tourette syndrome.
If you think you have hyperacusis, you will feel sudden discomfort when hearing certain sounds. It can be very painful and sometimes, all sounds seem too loud. Sometimes it can be accompanied by phonophobia, fear of noise.
Hyperacusis can develop before, at the same time, or after the onset of tinnitus. About half of the people with hyperacusis have hearing loss. Hyperacusis patients are often bothered by moderately loud, high-frequency, and percussive sounds, such as rattling plates or reversing beeps in truck.
Hyperacusis usually does not go away on its own. People who have found a resolution to their hyperacusis have followed a treatment plan to desensitize themselves to sound.
Hyperacusis - https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/014107680309601203
A Review of Hyperacusis - https://pubs.asha.org/doi/abs/10.1044/2014_AJA-14-0010
Hyperacusis - https://journals.lww.com/otology-neurotology/Abstract/2001/05000/Hyperacusis__Review_and_Clinical_Guidelines.9.aspx