Hyperacusis is a rare hearing disorder. People with the condition perceive sounds at normal volume as painfully loud. Sounds as soft as paper rustling, silverware clanging, or a hairdryer running are just as painful to these individuals as loud noises like sirens and horns. According to the Hyperacusis Network, about 1 in 50,000 people have this disorder in one or both ears.
Being unable to tolerate everyday sounds is the hallmark symptom of hyperacusis. These noises become irritating and painful, drastically affecting the person's ability to function in public. Someone with hyperacusis may start to wear earplugs away from home or in situations where they have no control over the noise. They may also begin avoiding social situations and develop a true fear of sudden noises and sounds.
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