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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Hyperacusis


Other Names for this Disease

  • Low tolerance to sound
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Overview

What is hyperacusis?

What are the signs and symptoms of hyperacusis?

How might hyperacusis be treated?

What type of evaluation might be initially performed on a person with hyperacusis?

What is hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis refers to a condition in which an individual experiences painful sensitivity to sounds that would not bother most people.[1] This condition may occur in association with a number of conditions, including neurological deficits (e.g. migraines), psychiatric conditions (e.g. depression), head trauma, and several ear, nose, throat conditions such as tinnitus, noise-induced hearing loss, and middle ear malfunctions.[2]
Last updated: 4/30/2013

What are the signs and symptoms of hyperacusis?

The signs and symptoms of hyperacusis generally include pain reported in association with sounds, annoyance and/or distress, and fear of being harmed by sounds, which causes avoidance and use of ear protection (e.g. earmuffs or earplugs).[2] Overuse of earplugs and earmuffs can lead to further hypersensitivity to sound, causing a vicious cycle.[1] Between 25% to 40% of people with hyperacusis also have tinnitus.[1]
Last updated: 4/30/2013

How might hyperacusis be treated?

People with hyperacusis should receive detailed information, education, and counseling regarding their hearing and hyperacusis. Treatment may involve a program of auditory densensitization and behavioral modifications. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is an example of an auditory desensitization program that has been used to manage hyperacusis. TRT combines patient education, counseling, and sound therapy.[1] Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has also been used to counter the anxiety and stress associated with hyperacusis. CBT is adminstered together with informational counseling, relaxation therapy, and sound therapy.[3] A considerable time commitment is required for TRT and CBT. Although TRT and CBT do not provide a cure, they can provide relief to people who have tinnitus and/or hyperacusis.[1] People with hyperacusis may be asked to reduce their use of earplugs and earmuffs, and are encouraged to resume their day-to-day activities and increase socialization.[1]
Last updated: 4/30/2013

What type of evaluation might be initially performed on a person with hyperacusis?

Patients with hyperacusis typically first receive an otolaryngologic exam and hearing testing.[2]
Last updated: 4/30/2013

References
  1. Bauer CA. Tinnitus and Hyperacusis. In: Cummings:. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery, 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby, Inc; 2005;
  2. Andersson G, Juris L, Kaldo V, Baguley DM, Larsen HC, Ekselius L. Hyperacusis – an unexplored field. Cognitive behavior therapy can relieve problems in auditory intolerance, a condition with many questions. Lakartidningen. 2005 Oct 31-Nov 6; 102(44):320-2; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16329450. Accessed 4/30/2013.
  3. Baguley DM. Hyperacusis. J R Soc Med. 2003 Dec;96(12):582-5; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC539655/. Accessed 4/30/2013.


Other Names for this Disease
  • Low tolerance to sound
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.