Hypersensitivity to sound (hyperacusis): a prevalence study conducted via the Internet and post

The present study explored the prevalence and descriptive characteristics of hyperacusis, defined as unusual intolerance of ordinary environmental sounds. Two ways of collecting data were used in the study: the first was a postal survey of a random sample, to which 589 responded (59.7% response rate); the second was the internet, and 595 self-recruited individuals responded to a call for participants via a banner on a web page (51.9% response rate). The point prevalence rates of hyperacusis were 9% in the internet group and 8% in the postal group. Exclusion of participants who reported hearing impairment resulted in point prevalence rates of 7.7% (n = 39) and 5.9% (n = 28) respectively. The data collection format did not result in any substantial differences. Hyperacusis was associated with concentration difficulties, use of ear protection, avoidance, tension, and sensitivity to light/colours. The present data suggest that hyperacusis is a common problem.