The hallmark symptom of hyperacusis is having a reduced tolerance and increased sensitivity to everyday sounds in your normal environment. People who suffer from the disease often complain of living in a world in which the volume seems to be turned up too high. Because of this, their quality of life is affected, and they may begin to wear earplugs or earmuffs in public situations where they cannot control the noise.
For people with hyperacusis, the everyday, normal sounds that most people hardly notice suddenly become irritating and painful. Often the most disturbing sounds are sudden, high-pitched noises, such as alarms, bus brakes, the clanging of silverware and dishes, children's screams and clapping.
Because people with the condition are so sensitive to noise, they may develop a fear of noise, known as phonophobia. As a result, this may cause them to avoid social and public situations in fear of exposing their ears to harmful sounds.
Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.