16 People Explain How Noise-Induced Pain Has Impacted Their Lives

Too much noise exposure usually causes hearing loss. But sometimes it does the opposite, turning noise into pain. The pain lingers indefinitely after the noise stops.

Noise-induced pain, or hyperacusis, is both a hidden condition and a virtually unknown one.

When a jovial laugh feels like a knife in the ear, normal life is impossible. Everyday sounds — a latching door, a sliding zipper, a crinkling paper — make every place a place of pain.

Others ask: Why not just wear earplugs?

The answer to that one is book-length. The short answer is: That’s not how it works.

We asked people with hyperacusis: What has the impact of hyperacusis been on your life?

Here are their replies.

1. “I rarely leave my house. Outside, I get attacked by sudden noises everywhere. The noises feel like nails down a blackboard and vibrations inside my body. There is no one who understands my suffering.”  — Pia from Denmark

2. “I feel trapped. There is no escape. There is no enjoyment in anything. It’s just too much effort for no return.” — Katy from England

3. “I feel fortunate that I traveled the world when I was younger, because I will never travel again.” — Maura from North Carolina

4. “I feel like a Martian living on a hostile planet.”  — Tom from Massachusetts

5. “Hyperacusis took away my livelihood, my relationship, my freedom and my soul.” — Ronnie from Florida

6. “I grocery shop at 4 a.m. to avoid crowds.” — Deena from Colorado

7. “How I’ve survived this far remains a mystery. I do not know where this perverse and unsettling road ends, but I am an unwilling passenger torn threadbare from a life I will never know again.” — Chris from Texas

8. “I feel like I am bleeding from my ears into my head.” — Cecilia from South Dakota

9. “I had everything going for me — a promising career, the house, the car, the wife and kids. Most of that has gone. My wife quit after two years of trying to deal with this. I can’t stand my own children’s voices.”  — Simon from England

10. “I do not have the words in my vocabulary for what my life is now. No words do my suffering justice. When there are grandchildren that you love to bits but cannot be around, you will just about sell your soul to the devil to get a cure.” — Daisy from Australia

11. “I don’t know if I’ll ever see my family again, as I have to fly to see them.” — Cindy from Cincinnati

12. “My hyperacusis is misunderstood by medical professionals and the general public, on a scale ranging from complete ignorance to an attitude bordering on contempt.”  — Molly from San Francisco

13. “I have never felt so broken in all my life. I am at the whole world’s mercy. I feel completely hindered from living. This condition cost me my business, my home, my vehicle and my dog.” — Issac from Arkansas

man and dog
Issac and his dog

14. “Hyperacusis has turned everything into a daily source of agony, frustration and sadness. It has closed me off from all I hold dear and pleasurable. Never shall I think of having children.”  — Matthew from Ohio

15. “At a doctor’s office, the building did a fire alarm test. The pain I suffered was unforgivable. They didn’t jump in to offer assistance. My explanations are pointless. People won’t understand anyway. They wouldn’t last a day in my shoes.” — Teresa from Michigan

16. “I was in pain when someone at the office tore off a month from the spiral calendar. It sounded like the rat-a-tat of a machine gun.” — Lex from the Philippines

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