Hyperacusis. Are you sensitive to loud sounds?

Are loud sounds overwhelming or painful?

Man with his fingers in his ears

Damage or changes to the inner ear, either from the ageing process, a head injury, ear infection or exposure to loud noise, can reduce your tolerance for sound and lead to a condition called hyperacusis.

If you suffer from hyperacusis you’ll know about it because you’ll experience discomfort and even severe pain – sometimes in response to moderate or even soft sounds. You might also suffer from tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing sound experienced in the ears or head, which is reported by more than 80% of people who have hyperacusis.

It’s thought that hyperacusis is caused by changes in the central auditory system, causing the brain to process sound differently – in this case making it amplify its response. Hyperacusis is common in people with autism, likely due to differences in the way the brain processes sensory information. It’s also something people who have Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) may experience. Sometimes unmanaged hearing loss can lead to abnormal loudness perception because when the brain is not getting enough sound it tries to compensate by “turning things up”.

Managing the symptoms

If you’re finding your tolerance for sound is reducing, talk to your doctor, who may refer you to an ENT specialist. They can investigate any potential causes or exacerbating factors.

Our team at The Hearing Clinic can also help. We offer management options and audiologist-led cognitive behavioural therapy to help you effectively manage the condition. We can also offer customised ear plugs to help you in loud environments. If you have hearing loss, then we can fit hearing aids that are carefully programmed, and when sound is restored to the brain, we often see the brain “turning sounds down” again and restoring more normal loudness perception.

We’ll help you to determine what’s an appropriate environment to wear them, and how to wear them effectively.

Here to help

If you have any questions, or if you’re concerned about your or a family member’s hearing, we’re here to help. Please call our friendly team or email us to find out more.

Audiologist of the Year 2018 WinnerAudiologist of the Year 2014 Runner-upAudiologist of the Year 2015 Runner-upAudiologist of the Year 2016 Runner-upInspired by Ida Clinic badgeInspired by Ida Professional badgeAssured Hearing Care badgeHCPC Registered badge