Hyperacusis, also known as hypersensitivity to sound, that can be caused by head injuries, ear infections, or exposures to loud noises. However, it is a common symptom of an individual who experienced brain injuries, from someone who suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) to a sports-related concussion. Hyperacusis is different from other noise disorders that may arise such as phonophobia (fear of sounds), misophonia (dislike of sound), or tinnitus (ringing in in the ears). It can be a highly debilitating feature of a brain injury that makes it difficult to participate in certain social situations and environments due to being unable to tolerate everyday sounds such as hearing a phone ring, a baby crying, the sound of high heels, or dishes being put away.
The reaction of having a hypersensitive to noises in the environment can lead to what may look like an exaggerated or inappropriate response to an unthreatening situation. It is one of the “invisible” symptoms that may make it difficult for a typical person to understand due to not being able to physically see the disorder and various symptoms that manifest with a brain injury. Living with hyperacusis can deprive the individual of engaging in everyday meaningful activities, fulfill important roles in their lives, and overall impact their mental health.
Hyperacusis can impact the following:
- Your mood (feeling anxious, depressed, irritated, or stressed)
- Normal activities such as watching TV with your family
- Activities at home such as cleaning or cooking (e.g., vacuuming or using blender)
- Your relationship with your family or friends
- Feeling irritated phone or text message sounds, music, speech volume, etc.
- Fulfilling your responsibilities at work due to uncontrollable sounds in the environment
Below are examples of the type of hyperacusis, the symptoms, and strategies that are helpful.
|Hyperacusis Type & Symptoms||Helpful Strategies or Treatments
*Treatments will vary
Baguley D. M. (2003). Hyperacusis. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 96(12), 582–585. https://doi.org/10.1258/jrsm.96.12.582
Sound Relief Hearing Center. (n.d.) HYPERACUSIS. Sound Relief Hearing Center. https://soundrelief.com/hyperacusis/