When it comes to hearing disorders, hyperacusis is certainly one of the most frustrating. Namely because people with this condition simply cannot turn the volume down in their ears.

Hyperacusis is characterised by heightened sensitivity to everyday sounds. Even the most commonplace noises, such as passing traffic, may be amplified to almost unbearable levels.

Therefore, finding a way to manage or treat hyperacusis is of the utmost importance.
Boots Hearingcare looks at how you can recognise hyperacusis and what your options are for treating it…

Hyperacusis causes

The potential causes of hyperacusis are hard to pinpoint; however, the condition is linked to several conditions and diseases that should be monitored extensively.

The most common root causes of hyperacusis include: If you are experiencing hyperacusis, you should seek medical attention immediately. A doctor or qualified audiologist will look at your ears and assess overall hearing health to determine where the hyperacusis stems from.

Hyperacusis symptoms

The defining characteristic of hyperacusis is perceiving sounds to be much louder than they actually are. This can happen with the most ordinary of noises, such as running taps, those from kitchen appliances like dishwashers or washing machines, car engines, and even loud conversations. As such, if left untreated, hyperacusis can have a severe impact on your everyday life.

Other secondary symptoms include:
  • Irritability
  • Constant covering of ears
  • Moving away from sound
  • Ear pain
  • Stress and/or anger
If you’re experiencing sound much louder than usual, visit your GP or a hearing health expert, who’ll be able to see whether hyperacusis is the problem.

Treatment for Hyperacusis

If brought on indirectly, i.e. by another condition such as a migraine or head injury, hyperacusis can be cured. Treating the direct cause of your hyperacusis will mean you should start to see an improvement in how you perceive sounds.
However, in hyperacusis cases where there is no underlying cause, it is likely your doctor will devise a treatment plan to manage the condition. This will typically involve measures making you less sensitive to everyday sounds, which include:
  • Sound therapy – to help reacquaint you with everyday sounds at their natural volume. You may be required to wear a specific kind of hearing aid that emits white noise for soothing your ears.
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – as a means of changing the way you think about your hyperacusis. Such an approach can help reduce anxiety and make the condition much easier to live with.
Please bear in mind that every case of hyperacusis is different. What works for one person may not necessarily help another, and it will be up to you and your doctor to work out a treatment regime that helps get the condition under control.

Frequently asked questions

Can hyperacusis be temporary?
Usually hyperacusis does not go away by itself and requires successful medical treatment. Sufferers of hyperacusis are typically given a treatment plan by their doctor or ENT that helps desensitise themselves to sound. This is why seeking appropriate help even in the condition’s early stages is so crucial.
Can hyperacusis cause hearing loss?
Hyperacusis is certainly an annoying hearing impairment, but it may also be dangerous in the long-term. There is often some hearing loss associated with particular frequencies, as well as regular discomfort. Although you will need to consult a GP for further advice on the overall impact hyperacusis has on your hearing health.
What is hyperacusis tinnitus?
Many tinnitus sufferers also experience hyperacusis; the other way around is just as true, with lots of people who have hyperacusis battling tinnitus as well. However, having one doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guaranteed to develop the other.

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