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
  • Tinnitus
  • 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


Child Development Centre

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