Unpleasant or painful over-sensitivity to everyday sounds is called hyperacusis. To an individual with hyperacusis, sounds that don’t seem loud to other people, such as appliance fans, shuffling papers, or a car motor, are painfully loud. High-frequency sounds may be especially painful.

Hyperacusis is a condition that stems from an issue with the way the central auditory processing center of the brain processes sound. It can affect males or females of any age in one or both ears. It’s a very rare condition, affecting around 1 in 50,000 people. Some individuals are born with the condition, others may develop the condition due to:

  • Head injury
  • Ear muscle dysfunction
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Lyme disease
  • TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome
  • Migrane
  • Epilepsy
  • Bells Palsy (viral infection of the the inner ear and facial nerves)
  • Other neurological conditions

Additionally, as many as 40% of individuals with tinnitus suffer from hyperacusis and more than 85% of those with hyperacusis experience tinnitus.

While there are no surgeries or medicines currently available to treat hyperacusis, retraining therapy may be used to help to change how the brain processes sound. Getting adequate rest, daily exercise, and avoiding certain foods and substances may also help. If you think you might be experiencing hyperacusis, contact Orlando Ear, Nose, and Throat in Orlando for an ENT and audiological evaluation.

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