How To Tell Hyperacusis From Misophonia

Misophonia and Hyperacusis

Almost everyone has heard a sound that made them uncomfortable. For some, it’s the scratching of a chalkboard or metal grinding that makes them cringe. For others, loud chewing and smacking or too many sounds at once that sets them on edge. When these experiences become overwhelming, it could be the result of hyperacusis or misophonia. These conditions are marked by an extreme and visceral response to specific sounds and sometimes sounds in general. Both of these forms of hypersensitivity are easily treated. Even though they are both forms of hypersensitivity, the underlying causes are very different and require specific treatments.

What’s the Difference Between Misophonia and Hyperacusis?


The root cause of hyperacusis can usually be associated with physical injuries and trauma. Likely causes include; exposure to traumatic sounds, impacts to the head, and severe inner ear infection. Any injury to the area around the inner ear can develop hyperacusis symptoms.


On the other hand, misophonia is a disorder where particular sounds will elicit an apparent, highly adverse emotional reaction. In severe cases, these reactions can cause physical discomfort and distress. The root cause of misophonia is not well understood and is considered an emotional disorder.

What are the Symptoms?


The most common symptoms of hyperacusis involve pain, ranging from acute pressure to completely disabling. Other symptoms include; tinnitus and temporary hearing loss. These symptoms appear after exposure to sounds at specific frequencies or excessive volumes. Symptoms can last from several days to months on end.


The symptoms of misophonia are cognitive in nature and cover a wide range of intensity as well as triggering events. The sounds can be almost anything; Alarms, bells, buzzers, loud chewing, and repeated clicking have all been reported as triggering events. Reactions range and could include mild anxiety, panic attacks, emotional paralysis, tremors, and elevated heart rate.

What Treatments are Available?


The most effective treatments for hyperacusis typically include hearing aids and auditory therapy. Hearing aids can soften exposure to frequencies, while sound therapy helps to adjust the sensitivity to the noise in question.


Because the trauma that causes misophonia is emotional, treatment typically takes the form of counseling. Therapists trained to deal with this condition will attempt to determine the exact sound and reason for the extreme reaction. Sound therapies are often paired with cognitive and behavioral therapies.

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