What is Hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder that makes normally tolerable, louder sounds (ie hammer on a nail) appear extremely annoying and bothersome. It can occur in both ears or just one. It is also known as sound/noise sensitivity and many people who have this condition may also suffer from tinnitus and have an overstimulated auditory system. Sounds that are already loud can be unbearable to people with hyperacusis, such as: barking dogs, car engines, vacuum cleaners and tea kettles. These sounds can cause a variety of symptoms from mild irritation to debilitation depending on the severity.

Treatment for Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis symptoms may go away on their own if brought on by another condition like a head injury or migraine. However, if there is no clear cause to it, it is recommended to see an audiologist to seek treatment. Systematic desensitization is a common process for treating hyperacusis, which is the use of therapy devices to transmit low-level ear specific soothing sounds to help desensitize. It follow a similar treatment plan of tinnitus retraining therapy. Although you may be tempted to wear earplugs to muzzle the sound, that is only temporary relief and can make your symptoms worse.

Not to be Confused with Misophonia: The Hatred of Particular Sounds

Misophonia is a disorder where people can have strong and negative reactions toward certain sounds. While it isn’t uncommon for certain sounds to make one cringe, for people who have misophonia, those trigger sounds can make them have a strong negative reaction. 

Both men and women are prone to developing misophonia, and it typically shows up around during the teenage years. It can begin with just one specific sound, but over time more and more sounds can be added to one’s triggers. People who panic at the sound of these sounds are often aware that they are overreacting, and can sometimes feel like they are losing control of their actions. Even thinking about those sounds can at times trigger a reaction from people with the disorder. Because of that, they feel more stressed in everyday operations and typically more prone to the symptoms of anxiety and depression than others. 

What are Some Common Triggers of Misophonia?

You’ll see that there are common themes with the sounds presented, and researchers in Amsterdam identified the following as the most common triggers.

How to Manage Misophonia

People who suffer from misophonia will try to avoid or leave certain situations, where they may encounter their triggers. Similar to hyperacusis and tinnitus, misophonia can be treated with tinnitus retraining therapy to help calm down the reaction to these sounds. Scheduling a consultation with our staff is the first step in diagnosing each patient’s unique symptoms and planning a path to recovery.