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What Are The Symptoms Of Hyperacusis?

Hyperacusis is a hearing disorder that affects the way an individual's brain processes certain sounds. Certain frequencies or types of sounds may seem far louder and more unbearable to the affected individual than to others. The disorder is sometimes mild and causes only occasional discomfort. For some patients, though, the symptoms are serious enough to cause seizures or a loss of overall balance. Hyperacusis is very rare, affecting only about one in every fifty thousand individuals. The majority of patients who have it also have ringing in the ears (tinnitus). Though hyperacusis is a hearing disorder, it's not always accompanied by hearing loss. Most individuals aren't born with the condition and instead develop it due to certain health issues or diseases.

Intolerance To Sound

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Hyperacusis can cause intolerance to sound. Affected individuals don't often experience intolerance to all sound, but certain pitches and frequencies may be worse than others. Sounds are caused by vibrations through the air. When an individual's ears detect these vibrations, they send impulses along a nerve, and their brain converts the information into sound. Individuals with hyperacusis have a brain that exaggerates or confuses certain vibrations. Even when these individuals are hearing the same sounds and receiving the same vibrations as others, their brain processes them differently. This is what causes hyperacusis patients to experience intolerance to sounds that don't bother others. Because of the intolerance to sound, many individuals with hyperacusis might be tempted to wear earplugs or avoid loud social situations. But while these help in the short-term, they can cause issues in the long term. Staying away from sounds makes them seem louder than if individual's desensitized themselves to them. The main way of treating sound intolerance is by gradually building up the ability to listen to certain sounds over time.

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Katherine MacAulay
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