SOUND SENSITIVITY BASICS
What Is Sound Sensitivity?
Sound sensitivity encompasses a variety of different symptoms in which a patient has a decreased tolerance to sounds, loud sounds and specific environmental sounds. It may occur with or without tinnitus. For some patients, these persistent symptoms significantly impact their quality of life. Side effects can include fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability and memory/concentration problems.
Patients with sound sensitivity should be referred for a hearing evaluation.
The good news is that there are treatment options. At Arizona Hearing Specialists, we tailor each patient’s treatment plan to their unique needs and experience.
Arizona Hearing Specialists has recently expanded its services to include a sound sensitivity management clinic headed by Dr. Adriana Sanchez and Dr. Evan Davies. They both have a passion for working with sound sensitivity patients.
Sound Sensitivity Facts
Hyperacusis is a type of reduced tolerance to sound. People with hyperacusis often find ordinary noises too loud, while loud noises can cause discomfort and pain. Known causes of hyperacusis are exposure to loud noise and aging.
Misophonia is a complicated sensory disorder of decreased tolerance to specific sounds or stimuli associated with such sounds. These stimuli, known as “triggers,” are experienced as unpleasant or distressing and tend to evoke strong negative emotional, physiological and behavioral responses that are not seen in most other people. Misophonia is a disability. Common triggers include eating sounds (such as chewing or swallowing), nasal sounds (such as sniffing or breathing) and throat sounds (like throat-clearing). Misophonia triggers do not need to be oral or nasal sounds or even sounds made by humans. Nature sounds (for example, birds chirping) and other nonhuman sounds (such as a clock ticking) are well-documented misophonia triggers. So are nonoral/nasal sounds made by humans (like dribbling a basketball). Some people with misophonia are even bothered by visual stimuli.
Diplacusis, or “double hearing,” is a form of hearing loss that causes a person’s two ears to hear the same sound so differently it creates a disturbing two-sound experience. Some patients hear sounds at a different pitch than the other (more common), or patients have one ear that hears sounds faster than the other, creating an echo.
Phonophobia is a persistent, abnormal and unwarranted fear of sound. Often, these are normal environmental sounds that cannot, under any circumstance, be damaging to hearing. It may be related to, caused by or confused with hyperacusis or misophonia.