Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder involving dysfunction related to perception of loudness. Those who live with hyperacusis perceive many types of noises as being painfully loud and unbearable. They also tend to be very sensitive to a range of sounds. This condition is different from what is known as “recruitment”, a condition usually associated with normal hearing loss.
Who Hyperacusis Affects
This hearing disorder can affect both children and adults, but the incidence is rare. Hyperacusis affects only about one in 50,000 people. The cause of the condition is typically due to cochlea damage from loud noise exposure like rock concerts, some work environments, or other causes. Other affected individuals include those who have suffered a head injury or suffer from tinnitus, a condition that causes people to hear ringing in their ears when no such sound exists objectively. Other factors that may lead to hyperacusis include chronic ear infections, acoustic trauma, certain autoimmune disorders, and side effects of surgery or medicine.
Diagnosis of Hyperacusis
After conducting a complete physical exam, an audiologist will receive the patient’s medical history and information about the severity and length of symptoms. They will then conduct an audiogram or hearing test that reveals the patient’s ability to hear different sound frequencies. Those with hyperacusis do not normally have any evident hearing loss that can be detected by an audiogram, although they may have problems hearing speech in poor listening conditions or noisy environments.
Treatment and Hearing Care
Unfortunately, there is currently no medical approach or corrective surgical remedy for hyperacusis, but there are some hearing care therapies that can help patients reduce sensitivity to sounds. Retraining therapy involves acoustic therapy and counseling. The goal of retraining therapy is to minimize patients’ reactions to their hearing loss. Acoustic therapy aims to minimize the sufferer’s sensitivities to sounds, while counseling is focused upon helping the patient develop coping strategies and skills. Counseling has helped many people living with hyperacusis deal with their anxieties and fears, which is particularly helpful for those who have been isolating themselves, withdrawing from social activities, or avoiding professional activities.
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If you or a loved one is living with hyperacusis, we invite you to reach out to us today. Our expert audiologists are available to help assist you in identifying the best treatment options for your individual needs to help improve the quality of your life.