Intolerance to Sounds: It Exists !

November 15, 2007 by Martin Fortin

Intolerance to Sounds: It Exists !

Who has never experienced stress caused by a loud sound?

Everyone has, in the course of their lives, been subjected to sounds that cause them to put their hands over their ears for protection. When sounds that are considered acceptable by the majority of people are completely intolerable for others, we define this as an intolerance to sounds. These sounds are divided into three categories:

For some, sounds can provoke a relatively low level of pain. People who experience this problem may, for example, do their grocery shopping while wearing earplugs. This form of intolerance, called hyperacusis, is relatively rare, affecting approximately 1% of the population. It can be caused by an acoustical trauma, or from a tic bite. It is often accompanied by tinnitus.

For others, relatively loud sounds create a sense of fear. This form of intolerance is called sonophobia. It can occur when a person associates a traumatic situation with a loud sound. For example, bursting a balloon near a baby can cause it to cry intensely.

Thirdly, others simply detest sounds that are relatively loud. This is known asmysophonia. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate sonophobia from mysophonia.

People suffering from any of these conditions can benefit from audiological treatment.