Hyperacusis & Hearing Loss: What You Should Know

Most people are sensitive to loud noises like a jackhammer as they are walking down the street or the sound of a leaf blower outside the window, but for people with hyperacusis, the annoyance is at a whole different level. Although hearing loss and sensitivity is common as we age, hyperacusis is a much more intense condition. Let’s explore the ways that hyperacusis and hearing loss are related and what you need to know.

So, what is hyperacusis? Hyperacusis is a rare hearing disorder where sounds that are normal to others can be unbearably loud. People with hyperacusis experience sounds as if the volume has been turned too high. Even everyday sounds can feel intolerable such as loud talking, car engines, household appliances or the sound of running water.

The Connection between Hyperacusis & Hearing Loss

  • The Relation Between Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

Tinnitus is a common symptom of hyperacusis. This ringing-in-the-ears noise is a sound that only you can hear, making it difficult to focus, communicate or relax. Approximately one in three people with hyperacusis also experience tinnitus. Those who suffer from both hyperacusis and tinnitus often notice that tinnitus gets louder and more noticeable when there are other loud sounds in the environment. 

  • The Causes of Hyperacusis

There is still much to be learned about the causes of hyperacusis. It is related to the structures in your brain that control how you perceive stimulation. They make sounds seem louder than they actually are. The reason why is yet to be identified.

Various theories as to the cause of hyperacusis exist. The following are a few:

  • Damage to the auditory nerve – It may be that Hyperacusis is caused by damage to parts of your auditory nerve. Your auditory nerve carries sound signals from your inner ear to your brain so you can hear.
  • Facial nerve damage – Another theory as to the cause of hyperacusis is that it’s a result of damage to the facial nerve. The facial nerve controls the stapedius muscle, which regulates sound intensity in your ear.
  • Other Illnesses – Many illnesses that involve facial nerve damage are associated with Hyperacusis, such as Bell’s palsy, Ramsay Hunt syndrome and Lyme disease.
  • Contributing Factors of Hyperacusis

Some of the contributing factors that are associated with Hyperacusis include: 

  • Long-term exposure to loud noises.
  • Sudden exposure to loud noise.
  • 86% of people who suffer from tinnitus suffer from Hyperacusis, and 90% of people with Williams syndrome, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
  • Nearly half of the people diagnosed with hyperacusis also have a behavioral health condition, like anxiety.

Conditions associated with Hyperacusis include:

  • Autism
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Depression
  • Ear infections (otitis media)
  • Head injury
  • Lyme disease.
  • Tinnitus.
  • Various others

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The purpose of this hearing assessment and/or demonstration is for hearing wellness and to determine if the consumer may benefit from using hearing aids, which may include selling and fitting hearing aids. Products demonstrated may differ from products sold. Assessment conclusion is not a medical diagnosis and further testing may be required to diagnose hearing loss. The use of any hearing aid may not fully restore normal hearing and does not prevent future hearing loss. Hearing instruments may not meet the needs of all hearing-impaired individuals.