Hyperacusis, misophonia, tinnitus, phonophobia.

The list of hearing sensitivities is long and has far-reaching implications. The first step in finding a solution is determining your type of hearing sensitivity. Pay attention to how you react to certain sounds. That’s often the most telling sign.


Does anybody else hear that ringing? If it’s just you, you may have tinnitus. Tinnitus a condition in which people hear internal ringing, buzzing, or whooshing in the absence of external noise.

Misery loves company, and so does tinnitus. It often accompanies age-related or noise-induced hearing loss, high blood pressure, or wax buildup – conditions that damage the hair cells in your ears. Persistent ringing is annoying and dangerous as it can lead to prolonged hearing damage and social isolation. Treatment options include:

  • Masking devices: Devices worn in the ear that emit ambient noise
  • White noise: Machines that create a steady supply of sound to distract your brain from the ringing
  • Hearing aids: Some provide sound therapy programs and improve environmental noise levels
  • Medication: Regulating high blood pressure will prevent further hearing damage


Nails on a chalkboard will put you in the fetal position if you have hyperacusis. This condition causes physical pain in the ear that can last for days, even weeks. An average volume can cause severe pain, and the louder the sound, the greater the pain.

Hyperacusis is usually linked to hearing or head trauma and is often a comorbid condition of tinnitus. This, again, is due in part to damage sustained by hair cells. Hearing aids can be programmed with sound therapies to detect and mask trigger sounds.


Misophonia is the hatred of a sound. Extreme, often disproportionate, reactions stem from misophonia. It’s not just dislike. Chewing, scratching, or tapping will make you want to run from the room.

Physical and emotional reactions include:

  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fear or anxiety
  • Anger
  • Tightness in your chest

The jury is still out on what exactly causes misophonia. It’s associated with conditions like tinnitus, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder and usually develops between ages 9 to 12. Like hyperacusis, hearing aid programs can drown out trigger sounds. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is another option to treat misophonia.

Don’t let hearing sensitivities slow you down. Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte offers tinnitus and sound sensitivity services and hearing aids to keep your hearing in top shape. Call 704-412-7975 or contact us online for more information.

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