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20th Feb 2024

Rare condition that can cause you pain if you hear someone chewing loudly

Nina McLaughlin

“You may be affected by sounds like jingling coins; a barking dog; a car engine; someone chewing; a vacuum cleaner.”

An incredibly painful condition called hyperacusis is something that many people suffer from, but very few people know about.

The condition is one which sees sufferers deal with severe noise sensitivity, with sounds appearing much louder than they actually are.

“You may have hyperacusis if some everyday sounds seem much louder than they should. It can sometimes be painful,” the NHS explains of the condition.

The range of sounds that can affect sufferers range from jingling coins to people chewing, and it can be so painful that it affects your relationships with people.

Hyperausis can develop suddenly or over a period of time, with some sufferers finding it comes hand in hand with migraines.

There is no known cure for hyperacusis, but treatments include sound therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Although it is related to other noise sensitivity conditions such as misophonia, hyperacusis is different as it causes pain rather than anger or anxiety.

“Sound keeps me prisoner.”

Karen Cook has suffered from the condition for the last 18 months, and recently opened up to BBC News about how it has affected her life.

“Sound is everywhere – it’s like air, you can’t escape it,” she told the outlet.

“My house is a prison,” the 49-year-old, who lives in Southport, said. “Sound keeps me prisoner.”

“It’s like somebody poured burning lava into my ears and my head burns, pain all over my head, especially behind my eyes.

“It’s like a migraine kind of pain – it’s like you want to split your head open to relieve the pressure.”

She described the impact hyperacusis has had on her life as “devastating”.

“I miss being a mum, I miss the clatter of the noise when they come in from school,” she said.

“I miss just life, I sat and watched them through the window opening their Christmas presents, because it was too loud for me to be in the room and they’d come up to the window and show me.

“It’s completely erased me.”