Not as well-known as tinnitus or Meniere’s disease, hyperacusis is another ear condition that can be extremely problematic for anyone unlucky enough to suffer from it.
Hyperacusis is basically a volume-input issue that develops at some point in life (as opposed to being a genetic condition). Basically, normal sounds … just sound too loud. It’s a hypersensitivity to volume levels that the vast majority of people find within the normal range.
The condition, which is rare, is often accompanied by tinnitus (ringing in the ears). And Meniere’s disease (which is not fully understood but seems related to excess fluid in the inner ear) can kick off a bout of it.
There are a wide range of other causes linked to hyperacusis, including damage to the cochlea because of exposure to loud noise, Lyme disease, viral infections, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), multiple sclerosis, and even being involved with an airbag deployment in a car.
Head injuries and other brain-related diseases, like autism or cerebral palsy, have also been linked to hyperacusis. Conjecture is that a host of issues — a glitch in the parts of the ear that guard against damage from loudness (the tensor tympani muscle and ossicles), auditory nerve issues, and a breakdown in the central auditory processing portion of the central auditory nervous system — combine to bring on this debilitating condition.
Luckily it is fairly rare, occurring in only 1 in 50,000 people. There are two types. Cochlear brings pain in the ear and a broad difficulty dealing with normal sounds. Vestibular comes with a host of symptoms, including nausea and dizziness, especially in response to some specific sounds.
Treating hyperacusis is not curative, but rather concentrates on allowing sufferers to better cope with their condition. Sound therapy, under the direction of a qualified hearing health professional, is a primary treatment.