Living with Hyperacusis


Hyperacusis is a disorder of loudness perception. Sounds that are a comfortable level for most would seem loud for someone with hyperacusis. Loud sounds would be uncomfortable or painful. For example, the most disturbing sounds for those with this condition are sudden high pitched noises, such as alarms, bus brakes, the clanging of silverware and dishes, children’s screams and clapping.


Hyperacusis is commonly caused by hearing loss due to aging and noise exposure. Tinnitus, or noises in the ear, and distortion are associated with hyperacusis. Occasionally, hyperacusis is associated with facial palsies, which cause a loss of the stapedial reflex (the hearing protecting reflex in the middle ear). Hyperacusis typically presents in both ears.


Treatment options include behavioral counseling and acoustic therapy. Behavioral counseling helps the patient deal with anxieties and fears of hyperacusis. Acoustic therapy decreases the sensitivity to sounds. Together, these treatments allow patients to tolerate normal environmental sounds again.