If you find yourself easily irritated by certain sounds, or you seem to be hearing sounds that nobody else can hear, you may be suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis. Tinnitus and hyperacusis are related conditions both associated with hypersensitivity to sounds both real and perceived. In this article we will discuss what tinnitus and hyperacusis are, what their symptoms and risk factors are, and how they are related.
Tinnitus is a perceived sound (a sound that does not actually occur in the physical environment) which occurs in one or both ears. This sound often takes the form of a constant ringing or buzzing and can cause significant discomfort and distraction to its sufferers. Tinnitus is a common condition, especially in the elderly, and can last from months to years, both continuously and in phases. Tinnitus is often associated with various forms of hearing loss.
Like tinnitus, hyperacusis is an extreme sensitivity to noise, but unlike tinnitus, the sounds associated with hyperacusis are actually occurring in the environment. These sounds are usually common everyday sounds like running water and ringing phones. Such sounds cause extreme discomfort for sufferers, and many of those sufferers will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid encountering sounds that they are sensitive to, including avoiding leaving their homes for days at a time. Hyperacusis comes in two forms: cochlear and vestibular hyperacusis.
Cochlear hyperacusis is a hypersensitivity to sounds in oneâ€™s environment. Sufferers may experience anxiety and irritableness when exposed to these sounds, and, even with ear plugs, will still find the pitch and frequency of these sounds too much to bear.
Vestibular hyperacusis is the same as cochlear hyperacusis, but also includes a loss of oneâ€™s sense of balance when exposed to certain sounds. This condition can be particularly difficult for its sufferers as it combines both the anxiety of cochlear hyperacusis with a sense of nausea, dizziness, and physical discomfort.
The Connection between Tinnitus and Hyperacusis
Many people who suffer from either tinnitus also suffer from hyperacusis and vice versa. People who already suffer from tinnitus are at an increased risk of developing at least one form of hyperacusis. Both of these conditions are common, being most famously suffered by the composer Ludwig Van Beethoven later in his life. Some of the most common risk factors for developing tinnitus and hyperacusis are noise-induced hearing lose, Lyme disease, diabetes, traumatic head injuries, ear infections, neurological disorders, and more. If you are at risk of developing tinnitus and hyperacusis, you can take steps to mitigate that risk by consulting both an ear doctor and specialized websites such as HealthyHearing.com.
If you find that you are easily irritated by certain sounds in the environment, or that you are hearing a sound, like a constant ringing or buzzing, that nobody else around you seems to hear, there is a good chance you are already suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis. These conditions can make life incredibly difficult for people that suffer from them, and doing simple everyday tasks like cooking or even leaving the house can cause extreme discomfort and pain. If you currently suffer from either of these conditions, or are at risk of developing them in the future, seek out professional advice today to make your life pain-free tomorrow.
About the Author
Nancy Snyder is a hearing specialist of many years. In her spare time, she likes to give helpful hearing advice by blogging on the Web.