What is Hyperacusis

A one page fact sheet on hyperacusis may be found here. Hyperacusis is a condition that causes a person to be unable to tolerate everyday noise levels without discomfort or pain. This condition is frequently initiated by a loud noise exposure but can also be induced by certain drugs.  Hyperacusis may occur with certain conditions such as Bell’s Palsy, Autism, or Williams Syndrome.

In a comprehensive review of research on Hyperacusis, Rich Tyler and co-authors noted the wide range of definitions for hyperacusis. They identified four sub-types of hyperacusis: loudness, annoyance, fear, and pain.

Loudness hyperacusis is when moderately intense sounds are judged to be very loud compared with what a person with normal hearing would perceive.

Annoyance hyperacusis is a negative emotional reaction to sounds.

Fear hyperacusis is an aversive response to sounds that results in an anticipatory response and avoidance behavior.

Pain hyperacusis is when a person experiences pain at much lower sound levels than listeners with normal hearing (typically around 120 dB SPL).

For many patients, several of these sub-types may coexist. Hyperacusis Research’s work is focused on this last type as we are dedicated to researching what we call “noise-induced pain.”

Hyperacusis can be diagnosed by an Audiologist or an Otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor). There are no specific corrective surgical or medical treatments for hyperacusis. However, sound therapy enables some patients to be able to gradually tolerate more sounds by listening to a form of white noise. See the American Academy of Otolaryngology’s hyperacusis patient page for additional diagnosis and treatment details.  Hyperacusis Research is committed to finding a cure for patients whose condition has not significantly improved by current treatment options.

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