Hypersensitivity to sound--questionnaire data, audiometry and classification

Scand Audiol. 1999;28(4):219-30. doi: 10.1080/010503999424653.


This study included consecutive case histories and audiometry of 100 patients with hypersensitivity to sounds. There are several different conditions with the symptom of hypersensitivity to sounds. Hyperacusis is one of those and is seldom described in the literature. The term hyperacusis is often used synonymously with hypersensitivity to sound. We propose that there is a specific condition that could be termed hyperacusis. Hyperacusis is often elicited by loud sounds or by a number of other traumata or diseases. It is not typical of occupational noise exposure (with the exception of exposure to music). The typical patient is relatively young, the mean age being approximately 10 years less than for a population of patients with tinnitus or noise-induced hearing loss. In addition to hypersensitivity to sound, the patients often suffer from tinnitus (86%). Sounds are frequently painful and exposure to loud sounds worsens the condition for some time. The patients often have headaches. Pure tone audiograms show normal hearing or a slight high tone loss. The uncomfortable loudness level is markedly decreased, mostly less than 90 dB HL. Patients with hyperacusis may also be divided into those hypersensitive to the loudness of sounds with a decreased pure tone uncomfortable loudness level and those hypersensitive to certain specific sounds irrespective of loudness showing relatively high pure tone uncomfortable loudness levels and decreased uncomfortable loudness levels to specific sounds. With a careful history other conditions with the symptom of hypersensitivity to sound can be excluded.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone / methods*
  • Auditory Threshold / physiology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Loudness Perception / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Perceptual Disorders / classification
  • Perceptual Disorders / diagnosis
  • Perceptual Disorders / etiology*
  • Reflex, Acoustic / physiology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sound / adverse effects*
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*