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Sensitivity to Noise Checker

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Your Sensitivity to Noise May Also be Known as:
Aversion to sounds
Discomfort with loud noises
Fear of loud noises
Fear of sounds
Loud noises are uncomfortable
Sensitive to loud noises
Sensitive to noise
Sensitive to sounds
Sound aversion

Sensitivity to Noise Symptoms

If you have ever experienced a migraine or a hangover, you likely experienced noise sensitivity (hyperacusis.) People talking, cars honking, pans clinking, and printers printing can become quite bothersome as each tiny noise is an insult to your brain. Such an auditory barrage can rapidly become unbearable.

Your ear is more complicated than its appearance would lead on. Deep to your external ear and ear canal are two areas called the "middle ear" and "inner ear." These regions contain tiny bony structures which conduct the sounds from the outside world to miniscule cells that turn those sounds into the nerve signals that your brain can interpret. This system is fairly complicated. If one piece falls out of place, you can experience sensitivity to certain noises or hearing loss.

Noise sensitivity may be associated with these common symptoms:

Sensitivity to Noise Causes Overview

Noise sensitivity is a symptom of a number of different conditions, most of which represent damage to the fragile hearing structures mentioned above.

Environmental causes:

  • Infection: Certain infections attack the structures of the ear and can cause damage leading to noise sensitivity or hearing loss.
  • Acoustic damage: Acute or long-term exposure to loud noise can damage the structures of the ear, leading to hearing loss or, counterintuitively, noise sensitivity.
  • Head injury: Trauma to the head or ears can cause damage to the tiny, fragile structures of the ear, leading to hearing loss or sensitivity to noise.
  • Drugs and toxins: Various drugs and environmental toxins can damage the ears, leading to noise sensitivity. One classic example is the hangover – a night of heavy drinking can lead to a morning of pain, including temporary hypersensitivity to noise.

Neurological causes:

  • Headache: Certain types of headaches such as migraines are associated with noise sensitivity, as well as other strange sensory symptoms.
  • Nerve dysfunction: Some conditions which attack the nerves of the ear can cause noise sensitivity.

Other causes:

  • Autoimmune: Certain autoimmune conditions, where your immune cells get confused and attack your own body, can lead to noise sensitivity.
  • Psychiatric: Some mental health conditions promote strong reactions to loud noises.

Top 10 Sensitivity to Noise Causes

  1. 1.Hangover

    Hangovers occur after consuming alcohol. People often wake up the morning after a night of drinking feeling a general feeling of sickness and fatigue. The unpleasant symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness, and dehydration.

    You will begin to feel better in a few hours. Rehydrating with fluids, most importantly water, and taking an over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) will help with your symptoms.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    abdominal pain (stomach ache), fatigue, nausea or vomiting, headache, diarrhea
    Symptoms that never occur with hangover:
    being severely ill, fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  2. 2.Concussion Not Needing Imaging

    A traumatic brain injury (TBI), or concussion, happens when a bump, blow, jolt, or other head injury causes damage to the brain. Every year, millions of people in the U.S. suffer brain injuries. More than half are bad enough that people must go to the hospital, and the worst injuries can lead to permanent brain damage or death.

    You do not need to seek immediate medical care. Make sure your symptoms do not change. If they do, go immediately to the ER. If not, follow-up with the doctor in the coming days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    dizziness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, trouble sleeping
    Symptoms that always occur with concussion not needing imaging:
    head or face injury
    Symptoms that never occur with concussion not needing imaging:
    recent fall from 6 feet or higher, severe vomiting, posttraumatic amnesia over 30 minutes, slurred speech, fainting, moderate vomiting
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  3. 3.New Migraine

    Migraines are headaches of moderate to severe intensity, which happen when blood vessels in the brain swell up. They are episodic and thus can recur often. Most migraine sufferers experience increased sensitivity to sounds and/or lights and become nauseous and vomit.

    You can safely treat this condition on your own. Migraines are diagnosed purely by your symptoms. Medications, such as over-the-counter pain killers (e.g., ibuprofen or Tylenol) may help. However, it is important not to take them too regularly. Taking them more than two or three times a week can cause more headaches, as the body gets used to the drug, and the headache comes back when you stop taking the medication. Talk to a doctor if you have two or more migraines each month, as there are more effective treatments for preventing migraines.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    new headache, fatigue, nausea, mild headache, sensitivity to light
    Symptoms that always occur with new migraine:
    new headache
    Symptoms that never occur with new migraine:
    fever, diarrhea, productive cough, headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Recurrent Migraine

    Migraines are headaches of moderate to severe intensity, which happen when blood vessels in the brain swell up. They are episodic and thus can recur often. Most migraine sufferers experience increased sensitivity to sounds and/or lights and become nauseous and vomit.

    Migraines are diagnosed purely by your symptoms. Talk to a doctor if you have two or more migraines each month, as there are more effective treatments for preventing migraines. Medications, such as over-the-counter pain killers (e.g., ibuprofen or Tylenol) may help. However, it is important not to take them too regularly. Taking them more than two or three times a week can cause more headaches, as the body gets used to the drug, and the headache comes back when you stop taking the medication.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, fatigue, history of headaches, nausea, mild headache
    Symptoms that always occur with recurrent migraine:
    headache, history of headaches
    Symptoms that never occur with recurrent migraine:
    fever, productive cough, headache resulting from a head injury
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Exertion Headache

    An exertion or activity-related headache occurs as a result of strenuous activity. This type of headache is often triggered by exercise.

    Your headache is benign. It can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    headache, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to noise, headache with a pressing or tightening quality, headache near both temples
    Symptoms that always occur with exertion headache:
    headache
    Symptoms that never occur with exertion headache:
    vomiting, double vision, fever
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

    Sensitivity to Noise Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having sensitivity to noise.

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  6. 6.Post - Concussion Syndrome

    Postconcussion syndrome is a condition that happens after a mild brain injury. Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty with concentrating and sleep disturbances.

    You should discuss with your physician whether your symptoms can be a result of a recent concussion.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, anxiety, depressed mood, irritability
    Symptoms that never occur with post-concussion syndrome:
    severe headache
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  7. 7.Recurrent Cluster Headache

    A cluster headache is a type of recurring headache that is moderate to severe in intensity. It is often one-sided head pain that may involve tearing of the eyes and a stuffy nose. Attacks can occur regularly for 1 week and up to 1 year. Each period of attacks (i.e. each cluster) is separated by pain-free periods that last at least 1 month or longer. Other common headaches may also occur during these cluster-free periods.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss symptoms, especially if the headaches are worsening or happening more frequently. Cluster headaches are diagnosed purely by history. Treatment options include extra oxygen and prescription medications.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, severe headache, throbbing headache, congestion, sensitivity to light
    Symptoms that always occur with recurrent cluster headache:
    severe headache
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  8. 8.Cluster Headache

    A cluster headache is a type of recurring headache that is moderate to severe in intensity. It is often one-sided head pain that may involve tearing of the eyes and a stuffy nose. Attacks can occur regularly for 1 week and up to 1 year. Each period of attacks (i.e. each cluster) is separated by pain-free periods that last at least 1 month or longer. Other common headaches may also occur during these cluster-free periods.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss symptoms, especially if the headaches are worsening or happening more frequently. Cluster headaches are diagnosed purely by history. Treatment options include extra oxygen and prescription medications.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    severe headache, nausea, sensitivity to light, throbbing headache, history of headaches
    Symptoms that always occur with cluster headache:
    severe headache
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  9. 9.Cluster Headache (New Onset)

    A cluster headache is a type of headache that is moderate to severe in intensity. It is often one-sided head pain that may involve tearing of the eyes and a stuffy nose. Attacks occur regularly for 1 week to 1 year. The attacks are separated by pain-free periods that last at least 1 month or longer. Cluster headaches may be confused with other common types of headaches such as migraines, sinus headache, and tension headache.

    You should visit your primary care physician to discuss symptoms, especially if the headaches are worsening or happening more frequently. Cluster headaches are diagnosed purely by history. Treatment options include extra oxygen and prescription medications.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea, new headache, severe headache, throbbing headache, sensitivity to light
    Symptoms that always occur with cluster headache (new onset):
    severe headache, new headache
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  10. 10.Bell's Palsy

    Bell's palsy (facial palsy) causes sudden weakness in facial muscles and makes half of the face appear to droop. The exact cause is unknown, but it's believed to be the result of swelling and inflammation of the nerve that controls the muscles on one side of your face or may be a reaction that occurs after a viral infection.

    You should visit your primary care physician to confirm the diagnosis and discuss treatment options. However, some cases do not require treatment as symptoms go away on their own.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    arm weakness, arm weakness, hearing loss, hearing loss in one ear, leg weakness
    Symptoms that always occur with bell's palsy:
    face weakness, weakness in one side of the face
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Sensitivity to Noise Treatments and Relief

The most common causes of noise sensitivity can be managed at home. Noise sensitivity associated with a headache (such as during a migraine), is annoying but manageable and not representative of damage to your hearing. However, any sort of chronic noise sensitivity or rapid onset noise sensitivity without a clear cause warrants a visit to your physician. In these cases, the symptom may represent damage to the structures in your ear and acts as a warning sign for irreversible hearing loss.

At-home noise sensitivity treatments:

  • Rest: If you can, resting in a dark and quiet room can help with noise sensitivity until the symptom passes.
  • Avoidance: Noise sensitivity triggered by exposure to loud noises can be mitigated by avoiding those noises, or by use of proper protective equipment.
  • Medication: If your noise sensitivity is the result of a migraine, certain over the counter medications such as acetaminophen or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can help alleviate the symptom. Migraine medications containing several ingredients including caffeine, such as Excedrin Headache, can also be quite helpful.
  • Hydration: Keeping yourself appropriately hydrated can be of use in getting rid of noise sensitivity, specifically in the case of a hangover.

Professional noise sensitivity treatments:

  • Hearing Test: If you visit a doctor complaining of noise sensitivity, they will likely test your hearing and take a look inside your ear with an otoscope.
  • Medications: Doctor may prescribe certain medications to help control the root cause of your noise sensitivity, such as powerful anti-migraine medications.
  • Hearing aids: If your noise sensitivity is associated with hearing loss, you may be recommended to get hearing aids.
  • Therapy: For certain conditions, progressive exposure to loud noises or behavioral therapy may be used to help retrain your ears' sensitivity.

You should seek help without delay if you have:

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Sensitivity to Noise

  • Q.How severe is your headache?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our sensitivity to noise symptom checker.

Take a quiz

Sensitivity to Noise Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced sensitivity to noise have also experienced:

    • 14% Sensitivity to Light
    • 8% Nausea
    • 7% Headache
  • People who have experienced sensitivity to noise were most often matched with:

    • 11% New Migraine
    • 1% Concussion Not Needing Imaging
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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    Sensitivity to Noise Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having sensitivity to noise.

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