What is hyperacusis?

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:46 pm
Hyperacusis (hi-per-uh-cue-sis) is a rare disorder where an individual becomes highly sensitive to everyday sounds. Some people think they have hyperacusis because they are bothered by noises such as lawnmowers, sirens, or loud music. However, individuals with hyperacusis have difficulty tolerating sounds which so not seem loud to others, such as running water, car engines, crinkling leaves underfoot, dishwashers, refrigerators, or rustling paper. In extreme cases, everyday sounds become unbearably r even painfully loud. True hyperacusis is very rare, so little is known about it. The onset is usually caused by exposure to loud noise or a head injury. Other contributing causes include temporomandibular (temp-or-oh-man-dib-you-lar) joint dysfunction, T-M-J, lyme disease, Bell's palsy, and Tay-sach's (tay-sacks) disease. The most promising treatment for hyperacusis involves the use of a hearing aid-like instrument worn by the patient for a period of time each day that produces a faint, static-like noise. When done in conjunction with one-on-one counseling by a trained professional, individuals can learn to tolerate normal environmental sounds. Treatment generally lasts for 12 to 16 months. If you'd like more information on hyperacusis, consult a specialist in your area.

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