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Tinnitus and Hyperacusis

The signs and symptoms of tinnitus and hyperacusis may vary in description and severity across individuals. Both tinnitus and hyperacusis may be symptoms of other disorders or diseases and/or may be associated with other conditions.

Tinnitus may be

  • acute or chronic;
  • bothersome or nonbothersome;
  • centered in the head or localized outside the head;
  • constant, pulsing, or intermittent;
  • high or low in pitch;
  • present in one or both ears; and/or
  • of variable loudness.

Hyperacusis is characterized by an intolerance to, or a response of discomfort (physical and/or emotional) to, sounds that would be considered acceptable or tolerable to the average listener with normal hearing.

Associated Conditions

Conditions that may co-occur or that may be associated with the presence of tinnitus and/or hyperacusis include

  • autism;
  • depression or anxiety;
  • Ménière's disease;
  • misophonia;
  • noise-induced hearing loss;
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD);
  • otosclerosis;
  • pain;
  • phonophobia; and
  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Individuals with tinnitus and/or hyperacusis may also experience functional limitations, including

  • difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly;
  • difficulty following conversations;
  • difficulty performing work tasks;
  • difficulty resting and relaxing;
  • difficulty sleeping;
  • emotional issues;
  • perceived hearing difficulty;
  • relationship problems; and
  • social isolation and avoidance.

Content Disclaimer: The Practice Portal, ASHA policy documents, and guidelines contain information for use in all settings; however, members must consider all applicable local, state and federal requirements when applying the information in their specific work setting.