Monthly Archives: November 2016

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Allergy to Sounds: Is it for Real?

Allergy to sounds seems weird, but it is real. The condition is called hyperacusis, which is defined as acute sensitivity to certain frequency or volume of sound. It may come from damage sustained to the inner ear, while there are speculations that the efferent fibers of the auditory nerve are affected. This causes the central auditory processing center of the brain to have trouble perceiving noise, leading to pain and discomfort.

Persons with hyperacusis couldn’t bear sounds that others do not find loud including ordinary sounds from running faucet water, shuffling papers, dishwasher and more. High frequency sounds become troublesome to them. Thus, the quality of their life is affected. It is almost impossible to function each day in an environment with ambient noise. This contributes to social isolation, fear of sounds and even depression.


allergyPeople may be sensitive to sound, but real hyperacusis is a rare condition affecting one in 50,000 individuals. It can affect people of all ages and in one or both ears. Sufferers are not usually born with it but rather develop it from other conditions such as head injury, ear damage due to medication, Lyme disease, and others. It may also develop from neurologic conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, Tay-Sach’s disease and migraine headaches.


An otolaryngologist or an ear, nose and throat doctor can evaluate a person suspecting to have hyperacusis. Consultation involves hearing test, full audiologic assessment and medical history. Consultation may also include counseling on the types of treatment to be considered.


No specific surgical or medical treatments can cure hyperacusis. Sound therapy is used to retain the brain’s auditory processing center and accept sounds. This may involve application of noise-generating device on the affected ear. It produces gentle, static-like, barely audible noise. It may take up to 12 months and is expected to improve tolerance of sound. Physicians find out the Loudness Discomfort Level or LDL of patient before therapy. Steroids are also sometimes used to treat the disorder within 72 hours of its onset.

Notable Persons with Hyperacusis

Famous musicians have been known to suffer from hyperacusis. No less than the master of classical music Ludwig van Beethoven suffered from it, alongside other hearing ailments tinnitus and hearing loss. Other musicians include Jason DiEmilio, Stephen Merritt and Laura Balance. Chess master Bobby Fischer is also said to have it, needing total silence just to concentrate on his games. Two politicians are also said to have it, they are Michael Huffington and Vladimir Lenon.

Recent studies of hyperacusis suggest the link between the illness and anxiety. Some doctors say that much of what patients experience is related to anxiety, though triggered by physical causes. This is why psychological therapy is being done and that some patients find it effective. A study also found out that patients has a music-related profession that the disorder may be caused by their exposure to music. Some have seen the benefits of music therapy to hyperacusis, just like in tinnitus. There are now more reasons to shop for instruments at Adelaide music stores or other music shops for that matter. If you don’t have much time to shop, just visit