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#52 Hyperacusis

If you have never heard of this word, it means being super sensitive to loud noises, literally, excess hearing. 1 in 50,000 people suffer this disorder. It may seem like a strange topic for many of us with single-sided deafness. How can someone with only half their hearing be bothered by noise? I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you if you don’t suffer from this you can count it a blessing.  

The noise can be relatively mild, like an annoyance, to the other extreme of life-altering misery. Trouble is, when you have hyperacusis, the noises, whether loud or soft, can produce some undesirable results.

Instead of just annoying, loud unexpected noise can often result in loss of balance. When this happens to me, I don’t fall, but I must stop what I’m doing and wait for my head to stop twirling and reverberating. Even after the noise stops, I sometimes still hear it for a minute or so. This is not a fun situation.

Another strange thing for me is when I expect loud noise, like that in a noisy stadium, it doesn’t bother me as much. Recently when I went to a playoff baseball game I took my hearing aids out. I didn’t need my earplugs, but when the game was over, so was my balance. It might have been because of tiredness from the lateness of the game or it might have been because of the loud noise lasting a couple of hours. I don’t know but I was thankful I had someone on either side of me to help me walk.

A noisy motor, like a motorcycle, airplane, vacuum, or leaf blower bothers me. For some people much smaller, everyday noises can be a problem. Running water, glasses clinking, the rattle of shuffling paper can sound super loud. 

It’s a bigger problem when we don’t expect the noise. Those of us with single-sided deafness, often can’t figure out where the noise is coming from. “Where is that airplane?” Often we can’t figure out the source of the noise. “Hey, what was that?”

Many who suffer this condition also have tinnitus, the buzzing or ringing in the ear. Even though hyperacusis is a hearing disorder, some people who have it, have normal hearing. Not everyone with tinnitus has hyperacusis and not everyone who has hyperacusis has tinnitus.

Not only acoustic neuroma patients suffer from hyperacusis, but other diseases or problems can cause it. Some of these include PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), viral infections that affect inner ears, TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), head injury, medication damage, and autism. A single loud event can trigger it but it can also develop from being near loud noise over a long time.

Although there is not a cure, sound therapy can help retrain the brain to accept sounds.


Readers, do you suffer from hyperacusis? How do you cope with it?


Dear Jesus, Help me to learn how to protect the hearing I have and to know when to use earplugs. Amen. 

I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears. Psalm34:4

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