Sound Sensitivity

Sound sensitivity is an actual medical condition called hyperacousis. Certain sounds can be unpleasant or painful to a person’s ears but not to others.  Symptoms may include ear pain, annoyance, and general intolerance to certain sounds or frequencies. It is often common with tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Some people can feel nausea, dizziness or loss of balance.

Cover-up cafe
Cover-up cafe

The most common cause is overexposure to loud sounds or decibel levels. For example, firing a gun.  Having a history of chronic ear infections can cause it. It can be associated with a few diseases. An adverse drug reaction, head injury, lyme disease, Meniere’s disease or migraines can cause it.

Often times people will avoid situations where sounds are too irritating. Lots of stress and anxiety can be involved.

Researchers speculate that it’s damage to a portion of the auditory canal.  Certain nerve fibers that relate to regulating sounds. It could also be a processing problem in how the brain receives sounds.

Hot Springs Bathhouse
Hot Springs Bathhouse- therapy

Treatment: Medications would possibly include Nortriptyline (a tri-cyclic anti-depressant). Occasionally steroid therapy is used.  Physical therapy can be used to build a person’s tolerance to sounds.

Sometimes people are so used to avoiding situations that cause problems that they don’t even realize they are doing it.  It could make it more difficult to talk on the phone, for example, especially if the connection is poor. Knowing about a problem can help someone compensate, wearing a hat or bandanna might help. It’s best to try the simplest and cheapest treatment before medications.