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Hyperacusis (Noise Sensitive) Symptoms and Treatments

Updated on December 26, 2010
Do odd noises disturb your sleep?
Do odd noises disturb your sleep?

Do Certain Noises Make You Cringe?


Do you feel you are overly sensitive to sound? Does anyone you know claim to hear noises that you can barely hear? When you complain about noise, do people often ask you, what noise? If you are one of the almost 40% of the population suffering from tinnitus or you are plagued by other hearing sensitivity issues, you may be experiencing the symptoms of Hyperacusis.


Hyperacusis is a health condition which shows itself as an over-sensitivity to certain frequency ranges of sound. A person with severe hyperacusis has trouble tolerating everyday sounds, some of which seem unpleasantly loud to that person but not to others standing right next to them. This is not a matter of someone merely being too sensitive, but a situation where certain noises, not usually a problem for most, can drive a person suffering from Hyperacusis into a sound proof room.


In the most common form of hyperacusis, Cochlear Hyperacusis, the symptoms are ear pain, annoyance, and general intolerance to any sounds that most people don't notice or consider unpleasant. Sounds and vibrations from a neighbor’s stereo, noise from cars halfway down the block and loud movie explosions while listening to Dolby Surround Sound can be torture to anyone suffering from cochlear hyperacusis.


As a result of this affliction, some people experience crying spells or panic attacks while experiencing certain levels of noise. Children suffering from Hyperacusis may be mistakenly diagnosed as Autistic due to the common reactions to loud noises experienced by a child suffering from either condition. If your child or toddler is startled easily by noise, have a hearing evaluation done as soon as possible. Feelings of dizziness, nausea, or a loss of balance when certain pitched sounds are present are not uncommon in children and adults suffering from hyperacusis. As many as 86% of adult hyperacusis sufferers also have tinnitus or ringing in the ears.


It is not just a loud noise problem either. A child or adult suffering from hyperacusis might also be startled by very low sound levels. Everyday sounds like shutting doors, ringing phones, running water, cooking, normal conversation, and other sounds will hurt their ears. In extreme situations, even the use of earplugs fails to bring relief. Someone with hyperacusis may try to avoid a stressful sound situations and may resort to spending his life at home, trying to avoid all sounds and problem noises.


What causes this condition? The most common cause of hyperacusis is overexposure to excessively high noise or decibel levels. Some people experience hyperacusis suddenly by firing a gun, having an airbag deploy in their car, hearing any extremely loud sound, or taking ear sensitive drugs. Others may have a history of Lyme’s disease, Meniere’s disease, TMJ, serious head injury, frequent migraines, Bell’s Palsy, facial nerve dysfunction, excessive ear irrigation or surgery. Hyperacusis can later develop as a result of damage sustained to the hearing apparatus, or inner ear, or the condition may be acquired as a result of damage to the brain or the neurological system during a head trauma event.


The most common treatment for hyperacusis is Broadband Noise Therapy, which consist of the patient listening to recorded broadband noise at soft volume levels for a set period of time each day, allowing the patients to rebuild their tolerance to sound. When seeking treatment, it is important that the physician determine the patient's discomfort level so that hearing tests or other diagnostic tests and therapies which involve artificial noise, do not exacerbate the patient's tolerance to sound.


Broadband Noise Therapy can be used with Tinnitus Retraining Therapy and Pink Noise Therapy. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is a treatment originally used to treat tinnitus (buzzing or ringing noises in the ear) which uses broadband noise to acclimate the person to specific noise levels and strives to building up a tolerance to the troublesome noises. Pink Noise Therapy (which is a sound level similar to the sound of the ocean in a seashell) is another type of noise therapy which uses a different dB level of sound for noise tolerance building.


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    • profile image

      carol 3 years ago

      I have the same problem with my ears, loud music especially bothers me. I purchased a pair of musicians earplugs and they are a lifesaver, expensive but worth every penny, I would recommend them to anyone who has this problem.

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      janet parsons 4 years ago

      so glad I found this page, EVERYTHING NOISY DRIVES ME CRAZY! I lice near traffic, and the noise of cars constantly going is going to drive me to a nervous breakdown,i hate loud tv radios, dogs, chimes, lawn mowers snow throwers, , glad I am definitely not alone, I live in newfoundland.

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      savita vashishtha 4 years ago

      i m near about 70,feel irritated to share my room with somebody snoring,running tap water or sound of t.v.etc.HELP.

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      Almark 4 years ago

      When I was 11 years old I could hear the beeping from the television remote, no one else could hear it. Now days, at 37 I hear things like televisions tubes, electricity from my electric razor. I noticed the pain in my ears at a very early age, 6 when I heard the clinking of a large chain hitting against itself, the noise was ear piercing, and still is, just thinking about it hurts. This is probably a good reason why I do well with audio mixing/mastering. I don't suffer with it, it's probably good for my ears, but certain noises really hurt, the treble on an electronic guitar use to make my ear squelch, it was a weird effect in my ear. It's not super serious though, just sometimes those certain sounds like a freq around a certain band creates real pain. You start to think you have superhuman hearing, and rightly so... you do.

    • Peter Geekie profile image

      Peter Geekie 4 years ago from Sittingbourne

      Thank you for a well written and researched article.

      I have an over sensibility to high frequency sound to the point that some days the UHF signal on television can be hard to tolerate.

      Voted up, useful and interesting.

      Kind regards Peter

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      Kyle 4 years ago

      I have been putting up with sound sensitivity for 18 years now. Nice to know I'm not completely crazy and it's an actual medical condition. Mine is so bad that I can't even be around people while they eat. Chips and crunchy type foods are the worst, drives me nuts. Seems to get worse every year, new sounds will start annoying me, started with a list of ten things now it's over one hundred. It has made me violent at times and intolerable to be around. Luckily I have good people in my life that can put up with me. I've been so embarrassed over the years about it. Think I'm going to try the pink/white noise therapy.

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      lynn 5 years ago

      the most dreadful sound for me is the bass on a radio ,even at very low sound comes out the bass sound seems to be blasting

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      4167 5 years ago

      THE FIRE ALARM that's the worst

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      leanne 5 years ago

      I think i may have misophonia.

      Almost any form of noise annoys me.

      i can tolerate it in spans but when it is prolonged

      I become severely agitated and upset.

      The only thing i find works is sitting in shower with ears plugged and

      water beating down on my head. I feel like im going crazy at times

      Earplugs dont work unless in shower because of loud ringing.

    • profile image

      vishnu 5 years ago

      We have to be careful not to lump all "sound sensitivity" issues together. many of the symptoms described by people on this thread are not hyperacusis, but misophonia.

      Hyperacusis starts as a physiological problem with the auditory system that is usually (but not always) caused by noise or head trauma, where the "volume knob" seems turned up so all sounds are louder, many of which cause pain. The hyperacusic person can then develop phonophobia (fear of sound) in response.

      To the contrary, misophonia is purely a psychiatric problem, and has nothing to do with the actual functioning of the auditory system. Instead the misophonia sufferer has an intense aversion to certain sounds (such as breathing, chewing, slurping) - or more specifically what the sounds represent emotionally. Everyone has this to a mild extent (getting annoyed or disgusted by certain sounds like by slurping, or a leaking faucet, for example) but the misphonia sufferer feels this to an extreme degree, where it provokes panic/rage, and where they obsessively hone in on the sound and can't block it out. In this way, misophonia is similar to OCD.

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      Clay 5 years ago

      Thank you, I don't feel like such a nut bag now.Has anyone else noticed that when they have not drunk enough water that the noise becomes even less tolerable? I am at the point now where I dread night time as it seems to be even worse. I work at a highschool as a youth worker, I used to love my job but have found that my stress levels have become almost too much to handle. from reading this I now feel its actually more to do with the constant never ending ringing in my ears and being unable to filter all the noise i hear. There is a great Australian movie called 'Noise' about a country police man who suffers Tinitus and how it affects his life. Watch it if you can... it is a little hard however as throughout the movie there is the constant ringing that he hears. Anyway I feel that i may be able to do something about this now. Thank you

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      javier 5 years ago

      I went to an ENT and she said she did not know what it was. This started after I had a Bike tire blow up in my ear, after doing some research, I was able to find out that it was hyperacusis, but now my issues is to find a ENT that knows what hyperacusis is.

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      patricia. 5 years ago

      have hyperacusis its a nightmare burning in ears head ect..wish it would go away...

    • Sparklea profile image

      Sparklea 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I'm with chill and DJCJ: Lawnmowers, weed whackers, tree murderers, and subwoofers really bother me...also noisy televisions in waiting rooms ...they are everywhere in offices now. I LOVE solitude. Thank you for a very informative hub. Blessings, Sparklea

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      Heather 6 years ago

      I have lyme disease and I can't help but notice how similar some of your symptoms are to mine. I mean not just the hyperacusis but the anxiety and reactions to ALL stimulus around! Perhaps if you have hyperacusis you could ask your doctor to do a lyme test. Better safe than sorry. ;) terrible disease!

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      6 years ago

      Yeah, i will hear a tiny little buzzing noise that noone else hears and have to get to the bottom of it. It doesn't go away with age, if anything it gets worse.

      As for the TV is it too late to return it, maybe a different TV would be better or play with the sound my new TV has all kinds of different settings, surround, clearvoice, cinema, etc. and see if any of the work for you.

      I hear my heartbeat with earplugs too and it drives me even more insane, on top of that they hurt my ears.

    • profile image

      Lauri 6 years ago

      Like most of you, I'm relieved that the craziness I have lived with all my life has a name and it isn't all "just in my head". When I was young, I used to walk around the house, listening to the walls, wondering where the sounds came from. TVs, the new eco-friendly light bulbs, someone breathing heavily, and yes, the horrible bass that you hear everywhere. Why do restaurants have music on low but have the bass turned up high so that's all you hear? Thump, thump. thump ... And now, the lovely heat pumps that people are installing outside their homes so you can hear it all year round ... And no, this doesn't go away with age. At least not for me.

      My question is ... what can you do when listening to the noise is unavoidable? Case in point: we have a new TV and it's driving me insane, but my husband can't hear the noise that is making my ears hurt so much I can't stay in the room. Do I turn on a huge fan while the tv is on? Run the dishwasher through three cycles? What about restaurants and public places? Earplugs make it worse, it's as though I hear the sound of my own heart beating if I use them. Gad ... I do sound crazy. I suppose it does drive some people bonkers.

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      Hilda 6 years ago

      Funny, I also thought I was the only one with this condition. Thank God, I decided to google hearing sensitivety and got this page. I just found out what I have and that there could be a cure. I am actually so emotional now cause I am so happy to know that it's not me. I am really losing it. I had hearing test and I told them about all the noises that bother me and it just mean that no body understood me. People just called me moody, everything bothers you. I hate to say the word "kill" but any chewing gum next to me, I wish them death. God forgive me, I just look at their mouth how ugly they twist it and every pop drives me crazy. I even what to kill the birds. I need help. Thank you Lord again that I found you guys.

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      Jean 6 years ago

      Our society does not care about excessive noise...I'd love to rip the new restroom hand dryers right out of the wall. There is no way that that noise is not injurious to everyone's ears, let alone those of us who are sensitive.

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      tom 6 years ago

      It just started for me.beeping sounds drive me crazy.also at night ringin in the ears.have an appointment at the ent clinic on the 26,hope its temporary

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      missunderstood child 6 years ago

      Walkin near the street .. All of the sudden someone uses the horn ( even if he's tooo far away from me ) I swear I feel he's like 2 feet away .. And I jump around tryin to not get killed .. Honestly its like being stoned .. But more paranoia

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      Roy 6 years ago

      Wow! I'm not alone and not losing it!. I get shortness of breath, panic attacks and agitated in the evenings when even with our tv on I can hear neighbours' noise. In bed it can be a nightmare. Noises are never loud, n fact no one else can hear them! I blame a flat I lived in where the 'head below me played loud music all the time day and night and refused to ever stop. Not helped by Zen teachings (I tried once) that get you to stop and listen to every detail. Now I can't stop. Nightmare!

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      DJCJ 6 years ago

      Finally (possibly) an answer. Certain domestic crashes and bangs get to me majorly, but the #1 menace is the EVIL SUBWOOFER. It drives me insane, and I refuse to go to bed if there is one going anywhere in my suburb - seriously I once tracked a party 3kms away, which I could hear which kept me awake. Even at work, when one of our extraction units is on 100m away, the low frequency drives me insane, and at times Ive had to leave the office.

      The weird thing is, I love loud music myself, played drums and piano for 30 years, am a part-time music producer (perhaps related, I seem to have what is termed in the industry a 'golden ear' and can pick the slightest issue with a recording, mix or master. (I once nearly vomited on stage though behind the drum kit as a particular feedback freq hit my foldback!)

      But typically its when its one frequency when I have a bit of an anxiety episode. If its a multitude of sounds, I can handle that - even if the neighbour has loud music on - provided the bass is low, I'm usually not too bad - but that low bass affects me to amazing levels. What's worse if we've recently moved into a neighborhood full of 20-somethings still living at home with plenty of time, money and self-centeredness to make their car as loud as possible! KILL THE SUBWOOFER!!

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      Jennifer El 6 years ago


      I have been noise sensitive for all of my adult life; can't say I noticed it as a child, however. The noises that get me the most seem to be "media" noises: TV's bass from stereos. Very annoying and bothersome now where people have 50" televisions they prop up against walls in apartments, townhouses, etc. Not to mention all of the obnoxiously loud vibrating car stereos. I used to live near a garage band of high schoolers and I literally dreaded them coming home from school or being off on weekends and banging on those drums for HOURS. To read an article like this is somewhat comforting. It seems NO ONE else gets disturbed by the noises that steal all of my peace.

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      elizabeth 6 years ago

      just been told i have this i thought it was just me any children screaming doors banging bus noises dogs barking television alarms people talking to load makes my ears ring i often shut doors shut windows and avoid noise i can hear telly hissing when on i tell my partner to turn it down and he says it only at 3 level i have a dog who barks at shop shutters and it goes right through me all these years suffering and no help now im going to hospital to get tests done they say it can be treated i hope so iv took 2 overdoses because i panick when i hear noises, thanks for listning to me.

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      Mr Guy 6 years ago

      I know I have hyperacusis. Not just the noise I didn't expect but also knowing the noise will happen, it hurts me. My heart starts beating fast. It is so annoing especially when I am in school. I try to hide it from students everytime. This is the reason I always sit in the back sits do that Boone can c me. I don't know what caused it but I surly wanna stop it. I told my mom but she was no help to me. My blood pressure is high for my age and I think it's because of this. I pray everyday so it stops and I thank GOD because he have redused it for me. Thanks for this article and I will pray for all of u. Thanks for this article and GOD bless everyone of u.

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      Chill 6 years ago

      Loud sounds freak me, give me the fight or flight response immediately, then anger. Nobody understands it, they think I'm just moody.

      But yea, fast cars, motorcycles, sirens, helicopters, planes, lawnmowers, weed whackers, URRGH!

      So not sure I have this issue, but gheesh it's so loud out there. Crazy loud.

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      Sharon 6 years ago

      It's the high frequency noises that make my skin crawl; micro-wave noises, fast food french fryers, inside gas stations when the pumps are beeping. As a kid I used to hear the replacement tubes for the old TVs waaaay before they would need replacing. I've had this for years and never put it together that it caused irritability.

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      Henry 6 years ago

      Sad thing is this makes perfect sense. Hell even my own typing on the computer is bothering me at the moment. I know that climate affects my exposure. Normally when I'm over heating the hyperacusis starts and I cant concentrate or contain my frustration until I turn into a sweaty aggitated monster and have to seclude myself. Best cure for me? Blocking out all sound other than the sound I myself create. Whether it be selecting something to listen to or covering my ears and humming to myself. I may look crazy, but it's preventing me from killing you.

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      leann 6 years ago

      My granddaughter age 3 sreams at the noise of marching bands and that the same thing?

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      westernsky 6 years ago

      My son is 16, and I think he may have this. He complains ofextreme pain when he hears a rooster crowing, my dog walking across the floor, and the way I talk(my s sound). He also complains of his ear feeling as though it is swelling. His ears are driving him crazy, and he's driving me crazy. About to take him to a doctor. I live in South Georgia. Does anyone know of a good Georgia?

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      Cathy 6 years ago

      I work in a noisy environment and usually have a headache by the end of the day.

      It is very hard to go to many public places anymore because of all of the "background" noise that is no longer in the background. Many people seem to think that the solution to noise is to cover it up with more noise.

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      Michelle 6 years ago

      I am very sensitive to noise. Ticking clocks the fish tank skimmer motor. Grrrrrrrrr! I need this to stop annoying me.

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      Hassaan Aasim 7 years ago

      thanks for sharing...i m in a confused state of mind...i think i have both tinitus (buzzing) and hyperacusis disease...i m seriously very much worried... =(

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      Jana 7 years ago


      I would like to know when can I have more information about TRT or how do I know which sound is for me?

      Where can I get all the information?


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      Paul 7 years ago

      Two years later and my hyperacuis is practicalloy non existant. TRT works!

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      SBD 7 years ago

      suffering from hyperacusis and tinnitus for 3 years, your article was so accurate--- it was emotional for me to read because you described it so well---it is hard living in this noisy world or to be active in many activities when you have hyperacusis. i appreciate the comments about how noisy things are--- there are few audiologists trained on how to deal with Hyperacusis--- if you wish to purchase a pink noise cd, they are available at the Hyperacusis network.

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      Geoffrey 7 years ago

      There is a website offering white noise - some of it free. Several dozen paid for options as well.

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      James  7 years ago

      Does anyone know where to buy a disc with pink noise?


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      Nadeem 7 years ago

      yes i have problem of Hyperacusis, because I can't feel comfort while hearing a loud sound e.g sound of horn, sound of music etc My heart beat too fast in this situation.

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      Zoe 7 years ago

      I have always suffered from over-sensitivity to noises that don't both others. I used to come home from school crying because the noises of people in the classroom breathing heavily or anything like that bothered me so much. Thanks for the article.

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      Sam 8 years ago

      The world is noiser today, with car alarms, Dolby sound and car steroes, it is a wonder we aren't all deaf!

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      ajim 8 years ago

      Are you sure this is a health condition or just that people are just too loud these days. Just watched extreme makeover and all the guy does is yell. Sports casters are the worst, yell yell yell

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      Alyssa 8 years ago

      For a month i have been suffering from bad pain in ears and throat with the occasional headache and cant bear a lot of sounds even low ones. I wonder if this could be hyperacusis or maybe part of tmj.

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      Cynthia 8 years ago

      Noise sensitivity is often overlooked in our very busy work spaces and I wish the people who make car alarms understood that!

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      Aileen 8 years ago

      I think my sister suffers from this! She hit her head in 3 grade and can hear things no one else hears unless they concentrate really hard. I wil have to show this to her!

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      NANCY 8 years ago

      Kristie, great topic on noise. Noise does bother me. Thanks for sharing.

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      Casey 8 years ago

      It's good to know about Hyperacusis (Sensitivity to Noise) Symptoms and Treatments. I think one of my friends has this so I am going to pass this article on to her.