Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis: Description, Causes and Risk Factors: ICD-10-DC: H93.2 Abnormal acuteness of hearing due to increased irritability of the sensory neural mechanism; characterized by intolerance for ordinary sound levels. HyperacusisHyperacusis is a condition that arises from a problem in the way the brain's central auditory processing center perceives noise. It can often lead to pain and discomfort. Certain birth conditions are associated with hyperacusis. Since the auditory system connects the outer organs of hearing with the central nervous system, through a complex series of neural pathways, that literally pass through or coordinate with many diverse areas of the brain, there are endless possibilities for dysfunction that may contribute to hyperacusis. Many people experience sensitivity to sound, but true hyperacusis is rare, affecting approximately one in 50,000 individuals. The disorder can affect people of all ages in one or both ears. Individuals are usually not born with hyperacusis, but may develop a narrow tolerance to sound. The most common causes of hyperacusis are, Head injury.
  • Acoustic trauma, i.e., airbag explosion or gunshot.
  • Adverse reaction to medication or surgeries, particularly Central nervous system.
  • Chronic ear infections.
  • Autoimmune disorders.
It is strongly associated with tinnitus, a condition commonly referred to as "ringing in the ears." Nearly 36 million Americans suffer from tinnitus; an estimated one of every thousand also has hyperacusis. Individuals can have tinnitus and hyperacusis at the same time. Symptoms: People with it may find that certain sounds are more difficult to listen to than others, and some sounds may cause pain in the ears, even when those sounds don't bother others. Often, the most disturbing or painful sounds can be sudden high pitched noises like alarms, bus brakes, silverware and dishes, children's screams, and clapping. Many sounds that were previously perceived as normally loud or non intrusive, can be painful, annoying, seem amplified, or irritating. This is a very frustrating situation for most people as sound and noise are present in nearly every work, social, or recreational settings! Sometimes, it can be so severe that people begin to avoid any public or social setting in an attempt to protect their ears from any sounds. It can be very difficult for family members or medical providers to understand and support the person with hyperacusis, which cannot be seen in images, like a broken bone. Diagnosis: Careful case history and the use of Audiometrycan help diagnose the condition. In particular, the LDL test (loudness discomfort test) is of critical importance in determining the degree of hyperacusis. Normal LDL levels in most human ears tend to fall at 90 dB or greater at various pitches or frequencies. Again, there is very little normative data on LDL results in normal hearing populations for comparison. Treatment: There are no specific corrective surgical or medical treatments for hyperacusis. However, Sound therapy may be used to "retrain" the auditory processing center of the brain to accept everyday sounds. This involves the use of a noise-generating device worn on the affected ear or ears. Those suffering from hyperacusis may be uncomfortable with placing sound directly in their ear, but the device produces a gentle static-like sound (white noise) that is barely audible. Completion of sound therapy may take up to 12 months, and usually improves sound tolerance. Because social situations are often painfully loud for those with hyperacusis, withdrawal, social isolation, and depression are common. NOTE: The above information is for processing purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.

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