When you think about hearing problems, you probably imagine conditions related to hearing loss. That makes sense, hearing loss is a common problem. It impacts people of all ages. In fact, more than one-third of adults over 65 experience some form of hearing loss.
However, there are other types of hearing problems in addition to hearing loss. One such disorder is hyperacusis, a condition in which sounds seem louder than they actually are. People with hyperacusis are hypersensitive to sounds that others can easily tolerate.
Although hyperacusis is not as common as hearing loss, Dr. Kevin Sharim and his team of highly qualified audiologists and hearing aid specialists at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals have years of experience diagnosing and managing the condition. Because we believe in the value of educating our patients, we would like to tell you more about this condition.
Hyperacusis makes it difficult for people to tolerate sounds that don’t bother others. It's a problem with your brain’s ability to process sound. If you have hyperacusis, you may feel hypersensitive to sounds such as car horns, chewing of food, running water, machines, or crumpling paper.
Even though most people would barely notice these sounds, people with hyperacusis find them so loud and annoying they have trouble focusing on anything else. Having hyperacusis can interfere with one’s ability to sleep, work, have conversations, socialize, or enjoy life.
Most people with hyperacusis can hear well. But their hypersensitivity to certain sounds can make it hard to focus on anything else aside from the bothersome sound. People with hyperacusis may also have other hearing-related conditions, such as tinnitus.
Many possible causes
Hyperacusis can have a variety of causes, including:
- Certain medications or toxins
- Exposure to loud noises, such as airbag deployment
- Head trauma
- Lyme disease
- Migraine headaches
- Neurological conditions
- Some types of epilepsy
- Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ)
- Viral infections
To diagnose hyperacusis, Dr. Sharim and the team conduct a physical exam and comprehensive audiology consultation, including a hearing evaluation.
Having a full understanding of your hearing and ear health, as well as your overall health, neurological health, and medical history, helps us recommend a personalized treatment plan that best suits your needs.
Some people with hyperacusis find relief with tinnitus retraining therapy or a customized earmold that filters out some environmental sounds.
You may also benefit from a sound generator, a device that transmits low-level sounds through a hearing aid-like device. Exposure to these sounds through a sound therapy approach may help train your auditory nerves and brain to be less sensitive to certain sounds.
Get help for your hearing problems
If you suspect you have hyperacusis, hearing loss, or any other type of hearing or ear problem, Dr. Sharim wants to help. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Sharim and our team at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals, contact one of our offices in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, West Hills, or Santa Monica, California.