Hyperacusis is a condition that can affect people of all ages. It is characterised by an extreme sensitivity to sound. The conditions results from a difficulty in how the brain’s auditory processing centre perceives noises and sounds.
The condition makes it difficult for sufferers to cope with sounds that seem normal to others – things like running water, engine noise, walking in dry leaves and the shuffling of paper. Someone with hyperacusis will perceive all sounds too loudly but may encounter particular difficulty with high frequency sound. This condition can have a huge impact on enjoyment of life and can contribute to social isolation and depression.
What Causes Hyperacusis?
Hyperacusis can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Viral infections involving the inner ear
- TMJ syndrome
- Head injury
- Air bag deployment
- Ear damage from medications
- Hyperacusis is also seen in brain injured children and some children with autism or cerebral palsy
How is Hyperacusis Treated?
There is no specific surgical or medical treatment for hyperacusis, however sound therapy can be used to help the brain’s auditory processing centre learn to accept everyday sounds. Individual therapy may take up to 12 months and usually results in a significant improvement towards noise tolerance.