Intolerance to Loud Noise as a Symptom of Addiction

As a symptom of addiction, intolerance to loud noise occurs when you become uncomfortable with certain thresholds of sound, considered normal by others, often within the range of 75 decibels (dB) or below.

Medically referred to as hyperacusis, people with this addiction symptom often report loudness discomfort levels (LDLs), where others would be comfortable with that particular sound level.  It is different from other hearing disorders. Sensitivity to loud noise as a symptom of addiction does not discriminate against any sound frequency, however, often depends on the abused substances and the consumed quantities.

There have been reported cases of up to 40% of people, already suffering from tinnitus, having hyperacusis. However, this is different from misophonia and phonophobia.

The Signs of Loud Noise Intolerance (Hyperacusis)

In the treatment of hyperacusis, early discovery and recognition of the related signs are important in helping a person suffering from addiction to undergo the recommended treatment.  Early treatment will help you, or your loved one, from exhibiting further complications. Here are some of the signs you should watch out for:

  • Ear pain (might be regular or irregular, in both or a single ear)
  • Annoyance
  • General intolerance to many sounds that others feel comfortable with
  • Crying (might be alone or in the place where the sound originates)
  • Tinnitus
  • Panic attacks
  • Brain injury
  • Epilepsy
  • Ear damage
  • Migraines, fatigue, posttraumatic stress
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When to See a Professional for Noise Intolerance

If you have a history of substance abuse/addiction and are showing these signs of loud noise intolerance, you should speak with a professional immediately, or ask a loved one to see a professional on your behalf before the situation gets worse.

Though loud noise intolerance often has other underlying causes, such as too frequent exposure to very loud noises (gunshots, deployment of airbags), it is likely that some substances you, or your loved one, might have abused could have altered the chemical composition of your brain

causing you to recognise every sound above a certain, usually low threshold as a very loud intolerable noise.

When you speak to a professional, they will diagnose the root cause of the intolerance and recommend treatment that could save your or your loved one from a life-threatening condition. Information on the duration and the frequency of the condition, as well as your family history (if there was anyone with a hearing disorder),  will be requested. Do not hesitate to answer fully, so that your doctor can determine the right treatment for you.

If your intolerance to loud noises is traced back to events that shocked your nervous system, such as being involved in an accident, being close to where a bomb detonated, or a gunshot, then it could possibly be as a result of posttraumatic stress. The doctor will then recommend treatment for these conditions. In case it’s a consequence of addiction, you will need to combine treatments for the addiction and hearing issues.

Seek immediate help if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • An annoyance when there is noise around you
  • Restlessness and unease when you hear loud music/sounds
  • You hear a ring, roar, hiss, or chirping in your ear that others don’t
  • Panic attacks when you hear loud sounds
  • If everything around you becomes too loud

Before you go to a doctor, you can control the noise level by moving away from the source, or reduce the volume (e.g. a radio). For someone suffering from addiction, loud noise intolerance – one of the many signs of addiction – can cause further causes for anxiety and depression, leading to thoughts of even more substance abuse.

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