Hyperacusis is an abnormal sound sensitivity or decreased sound tolerance, with a heightened sense of volume and physical discomfort from everyday sounds that other people can comfortably tolerate.
Sounds that are typically difficult for people with hyperacusis to tolerate are loud/impact/sustained sounds, particularly if they are unexpected and in close proximity to the ears. High frequency (pitch) sounds tend to be tolerated less well.
Hyperacusis is the consequence of an involuntary sense of threat triggered by those sounds when they are subconsciously processed, often due to those sounds being evaluated as potentially damaging or potentially painful or potentially exacerbating pre-existing aural symptoms such as tinnitus or hearing loss.
When hyperacusis develops:
The consensus is that about 40% of people with troublesome tinnitus have some degree of hyperacusis. Recent large-scale prevalence research, including research carried out at our clinic, has identified the development of secondary hyperacusis in about 50% of help-seeking tinnitus patients.
If acoustic shock symptoms persist after the acoustic incident, it is generally because hyperacusis has developed.
Misophonia and high levels of anxiety can predispose towards hyperacusis development.
Hyperacusis can also develop with: