Overview of Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis is a condition in which you become highly sensitive to normal everyday sounds. It is also known as sound or noise sensitivity. In this condition, certain sounds become unbearably loud which is normal to others. It can affect your career and social life. In hyperacusis, very normal sounds such as TV, talking to a friend or even your own voice makes you feel uncomfortable. High-pitched voices can cause pain and anxiety.

Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder but people with it have the normal hearing ability.

Occurrence of Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis is a rare condition. It occurs in 1 out of 50,000 people. However, its occurrence is increasing due to loud noise exposure. 

Signs and Symptoms of Hyperacusis

Some common symptoms of hyperacusis are:

  • Ear pain
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble connecting with others (social isolation and avoidance)
  • A running faucet

Some sounds that might seem louder than they should include:


  • A kitchen appliance, like a refrigerator or dishwasher
  • A loud conversation
  • A car engine
  • Loss of balance or seizures

Types of Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis can occur in two forms: cochlear and vestibular

  • Cochlear Hyperacusis: This is the most common form of hyperacusis. It causes pain in the ear, frustration, and a feeling of intolerance to normal sounds.

  • Vestibular Hyperacusis: This condition causes nausea, dizziness, and loss of balance in the absence of particular sounds.

Causes of Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis can affect all age groups. It can influence one or both ears. Typically, this condition is not present at the time of birth. It can develop suddenly or over a period of time. Some reasons for hyperacusis occurrence are:

Although the exact reason for hyperacusis is unknown, however, theories include:

  • Damage to a portion of the auditory nerve
  • Malfunction of the ear’s protective hearing mechanisms,  
  • A Problem with the central processing system, 
  • A malfunction of the auditory nerve

Risk Factors of Hyperacusis

Some of the most common risk factors of hyperacusis are: 

  • An injury to your head (for instance, one caused by an airbag)
  • A viral infection that affects your inner ear or facial nerve (Bell's palsy)
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
  • Damage to one or both ears because of medications or toxins
  • Migraine headaches
  • Lyme disease
  • Tay-Sachs disease
  • Certain kinds of epilepsy
  • Using Valium regularly
  • Meniere's disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Autism
  • Depression
  • Williams syndrome
  • Surgery on your jaw or face



There is no definite preventive measure for hyperacusis. But a person should manage the noise exposure. Also, try to listen to music at a reduced volume. Make sure to wear ear protection.



Hyperacusis can be diagnosed by:

  • Physical examination
  • Knowledge of medical history
  • Hearing test for confirmation

Treatment of Hyperacusis | When to Consult a Doctor

The selection of the treatment approach for hyperacusis depends on what caused it. If it occurs due to brain and ear injury, it can recover on its own.

  • Sound Desensitization: This is performed if the condition does not recover on its own. In this process, you will spend time with a specialist who will teach you to deal with sound. You will listen to very quiet sounds for some days and gradually develop a tolerance for louder sounds.  
  • Device Therapy: You will wear a particular device on your affected or both ears for a certain period. It produces a comfortable static sound. You can get the full benefit after 6-12 months. 
  • Auditory Integration Therapy (AIT): This therapy is usually used for the treatment of autism. In this, you may listen to music at different volumes for a certain period of time every day.
  • Medicines: Medications are used to manage stress.

In case of any concerning signs and symptoms, you need to consult a certified audiologist.