J Am Acad Audiol 2020; 31(08): 553-558
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1709447
Research Article

Complaints of People with Hyperacusis

Jia Ke
1   Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China
Yali Du
1   Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China
Richard S. Tyler
2   Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
3   Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
Ann Perreau
2   Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
4   Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Augustana College, Rock Island, Illinois
Patricia C. Mancini
2   Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
5   Postgraduate Program in Ciencias Fonoaudiologicas, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
› Author Affiliations


Background Hyperacusis is a prevalent auditory disorder that causes significant distress and negatively affects quality of life for many patients. Patients with hyperacusis often have different complaints about the sounds and situations that they experience. Audiologists may have few patients with hyperacusis, and a limited understanding of the sounds and situations that are reported to be challenging by their patients.

Purpose To investigate the common complaints reported by hyperacusis patients.

Research design A qualitative study was conducted with 11 hyperacusis patients who participated in a group session.

Results All 11 hyperacusis patients experienced negative reactions to specific sounds. In addition, many patients reported physical symptoms such as headaches, balance problems, dysosmia (strong smell problems), and light sensitivity. Sounds that induced discomfort were wide ranging and included low-frequency sounds, high-frequency sounds, wide-band noise, and sudden, high-intensity sounds. Most patients (9/11, 81.8%) reported negative reactions to music in loud rock concerts. Patients reported that stress/tension (90.9%) worsened their hyperacusis, while removing themselves from noise (90.9%) relieved their hyperacusis.

Conclusion Loudness is only one of the many factors related to the discomfort of patients with hyperacusis. Across patients, we observed that there were different complaints about the sounds and situations that produced difficulty due to hyperacusis. Physical symptoms following sound exposure were also reported by the patients, suggesting that hyperacusis is a complex disorder and requires intervention that often involves multiple members of the medical team.

Supplementary Material

Publication History

Received: 16 February 2019

Accepted: 16 December 2019

Article published online:
27 April 2020

© 2020. American Academy of Audiology. This article is published by Thieme.

Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.
333 Seventh Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10001, USA

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