Hyperacusis and Misophonia
What is Hyperacusis
Is an abnormal sensitivity to sound, that is characterised by an intolerance to normal every day sounds. People with hyperacusis can experience physical discomfort and annoyance to sounds that other people can comfortably tolerate. The discomfort can be triggered by moderate to loud sounds and unexpected sounds.
Most common predispositions that can lead to hyperacusis are suffering an acoustic shock (loud blast of noise), or having pre-existing tinnitus. There are however, other conditions that can also give a person a greater risk of developing hyperacusis such as neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, autism spectrum disorders and adverse reaction to some medications. The factors that result in hyperacusis are complex and outside a patient’s conscious control so treatment time frames can vary.
The most effective treatment for hyperacusis, is for a person to understand their auditory system, and examining the thoughts and beliefs about their hyperacusis. For many people, the explanation and reassurance around their hyperacusis, will allow them to desensitise adequately. Sound enrichment strategies have proven useful for a lot of people with hyperacusis. As hyperacusis can lead to other concerns such as anxiety, depression and negative effects on lifestyle, a multidisciplinary approach to management is most effective.
What is Misophononia
Is an abnormally large aversive response to certain specific sounds, irrespective of their volume. People with misophonia have an abnormal sensitivity to specific trigger sounds, that are usually made by other people, such as general eating/breathing sounds. Trigger sounds can also be general repetitive sounds, such as a pen clicking or someone typing, or other soft sounds that are intruding on someone’s personal space, such as a neighbour’s music or other noise out of a patient’s control. When someone with misophonia hears their specific trigger sound, it induces an abnormally high level of irritation, and even anger or rage. People may then feel overwhelmed, embarrassed, or ashamed by the intensity of their emotions and responses toward the trigger sound, and can develop anxiety around their ability to control these emotions. People living with misophonia are often anxious about being exposed to their trigger sounds in an attempt to avoid the intense emotions experienced after exposure. Misophononia often stems from early in life, where a negative reaction occurred in response to a certain sound. This reaction can build over time at both a conscious and subconscious level, to a point where the trigger sound has the potential to elicit rage in the person. The sounds become increasingly intolerable over time. People with autism spectrum disorders and sensory processing disorders are more neurologically vulnerable towards the development of misophonia.
The most effective management for misophonia is for a person to obtain an understanding of the central auditory pathway, and the brains incredible ability to retrain itself in its response to most things. As for hyperacusis, sound enrichment strategies are crucial in the treatment of misophonia, to try and achieve desensitisation to trigger sounds. As most trigger sounds are likely to be unavoidable in the person’s home environment, sound enrichment aims to constantly surround potential trigger sounds with a neutral sound that is easily ignored by the person. The intuitive reaction of a person with misophonia is to avoid trigger sounds at all costs, however this can escalate the severity of the problem. Coping strategies are important to control possible escalations.
Hyperacusis and Misophonia can occur at the same time, however they are two distinctly different conditions.
Fee: Hyperacusis and Misophonia Assessment $175.00, appointment approx 60 minutes and includes hearing test, consultation and written report.
Medicare: Medicare rebates available with some audiology (excluding wax removal) services if you have a referral from your medical practitioner. You must claim the rebate from Medicare directly.
Health Fund: HiCaps is not available for audiology, thus check with your health fund to see if hearing test is covered under your policy. Receipt with the clinician’s provider number will be provided for you to claim on your health fund.
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