From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history

Hyperacusis or severe noise sensitivity or severe sound sensitivity is a hearing disorder that makes ordinary sounds or noise feel unbearably loud, causing discomfort, excessive annoyance, fear, or pain.[1][2] Hyperacusis is considered to be a reduced tolerance to noises that don't seem to be noticeable to others and may be limited to certain types of noise; for example: a car engine, a fridge, or a vacuum cleaner.[3][1][4]

Whitney Dafoe is a very severely ill ME patient that must wear ear protection daily, even indoors
Char, author at Chronically Hopeful, writes of sound sensitivity which she suffers daily but becomes worse during a flare.[5] Patients use ear protection

Everyday sounds can be unbearable to the sufferer but will have no effect on others.

Tinnitus is also common in people with hyperacusis.[1]

Noise sensitivity[edit | edit source]

Noise sensitivity is not the same as hyperacusis.

While noise sensitivity is very common in the general population, hyperacusis is not.[1][2]

Prevalence[edit | edit source]

Some degree of noise sensitivity is common, occurring in 20-40% of people, with high noise sensitivity affecting 12% to 15% of people.[1][2]

Estimates of hyperacusis prevalence vary considerably, from less than 1 in 1,000 people to 4-17% in certain groups, hyperacusis is generally regarded as rare while noise sensitivity is common.[1][2][6]

Hyperacusis is more common in certain groups, including professional musicians or music students, people with autism, William's syndrome or certain other conditions, adolescents and older people, and is more common in females.[6]

Hyperacusis in ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

Symptom recognition[edit | edit source]

Hyperacusis is a symptom of ME recognized in the International Consensus Criteria's neurosensory symptoms, and counts towards the neurological symptoms required to diagnose ME or atypical ME (which is when symptoms are partially rather than fully met).[7]:7

Hypersensitivity to noise is mentioned as part of the "overload phenomenon" diagnostic symptom in the Canadian Consensus Criteria's Neurological/Cognitive Manifestations.

The same section also refers to "sensory disturbances".[8]:11 It can also be rated using the Symptom Severity and Severity Hierarchy Chart (Appendix 3), although light sensitivity, noise, odors is combined into one item.[8]:102-103

Hyperacusis is recognized in the in the Visual and Auditory Disturbances part of the Signs and Symptoms list in Appendix 4.[8]:104

There is no reference to noise sensitivity in the more commonly used Fukuda criteria.

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

  • 1992, Ocular manifestations of chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome[9] - (Abstract)

Possible causes[edit | edit source]

Hyperacusis results from the "malfunction of the central auditory pathways and their connections within the central nervous system".[2]

  • Hearing loss is a significant risk factor for both hyperacusis and tinnitus, although many people with hyperacusis have normal hearing.
  • Damage to the inner ear caused by ageing
  • One-off or ongoing exposure to very loud noise
  • Damage to the facial nerve
  • Ear surgery
  • Head injury
  • William's syndrome
  • Autism spectrum
  • Neurologic diseases including Ménière's disease, migraine and Lyme disease
  • certain medications.[1][3][4]
  • temporomandibular disorder[10]

It is not fully understand how ME/CFS causes hyperacusis.

Potential treatments[edit | edit source]

There is no cure, but there are ways to manage hyperacusis.[3]

In some cases ear plugs or ear defenders should only be used when essential since they can make hyperacusis worse if used too much.[4] However in other cases setbacks from noise can be permanent [11] so the risks of overprotection are far smaller than the risks of noise exposure.

Learn more[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Konstantinovsky, Michelle. "What Is Sound Sensitivity (Hyperacusis)?". WebMD. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Kliuchko, Marina; Heinonen-Guzejev, Marja; Vuust, Peter; Tervaniemi, Mari; Brattico, Elvira (December 15, 2016). "A window into the brain mechanisms associated with noise sensitivity". Scientific Reports. 6: 39236. doi:10.1038/srep39236. ISSN 2045-2322. PMC 5157031. PMID 27976708.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Hearing problems - hyperacusis". Better Health Channel. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Noise sensitivity (hyperacusis)". National Health Service. October 18, 2017. Retrieved January 10, 2022.
  5. x, Char (November 2, 2017). "ME/CFS flares: what do they feel like and how to cope". Chronically Hopeful. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Ren, Jing; Xu, Tao; Xiang, Tao; Pu, Jun-mei; Liu, Lu; Xiao, Yan; Lai, Dan (2021). "Prevalence of Hyperacusis in the General and Special Populations: A Scoping Review". Frontiers in Neurology. 12: 1540. doi:10.3389/fneur.2021.706555. ISSN 1664-2295.
  7. Carruthers, BM; van de Sande, MI; De Meirleir, KL; Klimas, NG; Broderick, G; Mitchell, T; Staines, D; Powles, ACP; Speight, N; Vallings, R; Bateman, L; Bell, DS; Carlo-Stella, N; Chia, J; Darragh, A; Gerken, A; Jo, D; Lewis, DP; Light, AR; Light, KC; Marshall-Gradisnik, S; McLaren-Howard, J; Mena, I; Miwa, K; Murovska, M; Stevens, SR (2012), Myalgic encephalomyelitis: Adult & Paediatric: International Consensus Primer for Medical Practitioners (PDF), ISBN 978-0-9739335-3-6
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Carruthers, Bruce M.; Jain, Anil Kumar; De Meirleir, Kenny L.; Peterson, Daniel L.; Klimas, Nancy G.; Lerner, A. Martin; Bested, Alison C.; Flor-Henry, Pierre; Joshi, Pradip; Powles, AC Peter; Sherkey, Jeffrey A.; van de Sande, Marjorie I. (2003), "Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Clinical Working Case Definition, Diagnostic and Treatment Protocols" (PDF), Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 11 (2): 7–115, doi:10.1300/J092v11n01_02
  9. Potaznick, W; Kozol, N (October 1, 1992). "Ocular manifestations of chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome". Optometry and vision science. 69 (10): 811–814. doi:10.1097/00006324-199210000-00011. ISSN 1538-9235. PMID 1437004.
  10. Kusdra, Pamela Maria; Stechman-Neto, Jose; Leão, Bianca Lopes Cavalcante de; Martins, Paulo Francisco Arant; Lacerda, Adriana Bender Moreira de; Zeigelboim, Bianca Simone (June 1, 2018). "Relationship between Otological Symptoms and TMD". The International Tinnitus Journal. 22 (1): 30–34. doi:10.5935/0946-5448.20180005. ISSN 0946-5448. PMID 29993214.
  11. Pollard, Bryan (2019-10). "Clinical Advancements for Managing Hyperacusis with Pain". The Hearing Journal. 72 (10): 10. doi:10.1097/01.HJ.0000602900.16223.0e. ISSN 0745-7472. Check date values in: |date= (help)