Hyperacusis is a significantly reduced tolerance to everyday sounds. Noise which other people don't even notice can be unbearable for people with the condition. Background noises can cause significant suffering and discomfort. This can lead to difficulty working, sleeping and enjoying life. Thankfully the condition is rare. Many people are sensitive to noise but true hyperacusis is very unusual.
In most cases when hyperacusis goes away it is as a result of treatment. Sound therapy is often used along with cognitive behavioural therapy and other support. Sound therapy usually consists of earpieces which play white noise. This retrains the brain to reduce the trigger threshold for sound. This can make the condition better.
Online forums describe some stories of the condition improving on its own. A doctor may recommend waiting to see if there is improvement over a few weeks before initiating any therapy.
There are often psychological consequences for the condition. Depression and anxiety are common as the problem can cause suffering and reduce quality of life. As a result, counseling may be required from a specialist who has experience in this area. People often go through the mill getting a diagnosis as the condition is poorly understood by many doctors. It will require a specialist with experience to diagnose the problem and create a good treatment plan.
An MRI scan may be recommended in order to rule out acoustic neuroma. This is a tumour of the acoustic nerve. It can cause ear pain, tinnitus and hyperacusis. Unfortunately MRI scans are noisy. The sound is like a repeated banging. This can worsen hyperacusis and can clearly be upsetting for somebody with the condition. This is especially true as they may have been told that they might have a tumour.
Make sure you have some good earplugs with you. The MRI scanner may be able to provide you with over the ear earmuffs also. ZenPlugs are ideal for this as they contain no metal and are very good at excluding sound. Because they are moulded to your ears they are also very comfortable.
Please visit your doctor if you think you may have an ear problem. Do not use this article as a substitute for medical advice.