Hyperacusis has been defined as ‘unusual tolerance to ordinary environmental sounds’ and, more pejoratively, as ‘consistently exaggerated or inappropriate responses to sounds that are neither threatening nor uncomfortably loud to a typical person’. This means loud noises, such as fireworks, and everyday sounds like telephones can feel uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It can vary in its severity, from being a mild inconvenience to a life-changing condition.
The condition can affect children and adults, but is considered rare, occurring in an estimated one in 50,000 people.
It can be caused by a number of factors.
- Damage to the cochlea from exposure to loud noises such as those experienced at certain work environments, rock concerts, gunfire, air bag deployment in cars and fireworks.
- Head injury
- Acoustic trauma, adverse reactions to medicine or surgeries,
- Chronic ear infections
- Autistic spectrum disorders
- Autoimmune disorders
- Sudden discomfort when hearing particular sounds.
- Fear of noise.
This condition can also be linked to anxiety and depression
Auditory desensitization can be used to overcome the hypersensitivity to sounds in autistic children