Survey results: hyperacusis

Hyperacusis survey results: an uncommon MS symptom. #MSBlog #MSResearch

“The following are the preliminary results of  the hyperacusis survey. What it shows is that most MSers were unaware of this symptom and although it is relatively uncommon when you do get hyperacusis it can be very troubling. In summary hyperacusis is a symptom that can be caused by MS, it is usually due to a brain stem attack and it can be treated.”

For more on the topic please read the following post: Clinic Speak: MS-related hyperacusis – Multiple Sclerosis …, 06 Jul 2014: “This is post is in response to a comment on hyperacusis in MS. A rare symptomatic problem in MS is hyperacusis, which refers to pain in response to hearing loud noises or specific sounds. The case series below is of three …”

Comments from the survey:

  1. I experienced over sensitive hearing whilst in the middle of a relapse that affected my 6th and 7th nerves caused by a brainstem lesion. I had facial paralysis at the time. Loud noises like dogs barking and children shouting were quite painful. It lasted approx 6 weeks. I was waiting to be diagnosed at the time and no-one really paid a lot of attention to my hearing. I’m pleased to say it returned to normal, along with my face.
  2. During and for a couple of hours after migraines I am extremely sensitive to noise, even normal level noise feels too much to bear. I also have fairly frequent episodes where some muscle in my right ear is contracting and relaxing very quickly.
  3. I had facial paralysis as part of a relapse 2 years ago, and I was left with a ringing in my ears. Loud noises don’t hurt, but I avoid them. I always thought it was more the result of overstimulation, though. Too much input for my weakened CNS.
  4. Hypercausis was one symptom I experienced during an MS attack. This went along with numbness of the skin on my fave especially the check and chin. To deal with it I would wear ear protection. The steroids made it eventuality go away. But it returns sometimes when I am very tired. 
  5. I knew I have sensitivity for some noises, especially high ones. I was sure it was related to my MS, but I did not know it had a name and that other people suffer from it. I’ve never heard about others like me. I suppose if no one asks, there is no way to know how frequent is this phenomenon, like many other symptoms or side effects of drugs that are not asked about routinely (i.e. lypoatrophy).
  6. Thank you for this post and for the survey. 
  7. My responses are based on the immense pain induced by using a telephone or an ear piece/head phone set but only one ear is affected. Various tests have proved inconclusive – so maybe this is hyperacusis related….
  8. It is only in one ear and I can manage it by putting an ear plug in that ear to stop the noise to that ear. I suspected it was MS related but I have not mentioned it to neuro.
  9. I was unaware of this condition. My hearing will sometime become very sensitive and high pitch noises will be painful. I figured it was part of the migraines that I experience without headache pain. the facial palsy has happened to me once and lasted one week I do not remember if this condition coincided with the facial palsy.
  10. Already on combination gabapentin, lyrica, cymbalta, nortriptyline, clonidine, to control pain and baclofen for muscles.
  11. I do not have hyperacussis but I do seem more and more intolerant of noise. I am quite overwhelmed by music in shops, busy supermarkets, chatter on trains, open plan offices etc. That may not be anything to do with MS but it makes me irritable and tense and tired. I do wonder if this sensory overload is MS related?
  12. Thanks for this post, I thought it would be a good idea to make the comment as there seems a bit of knowledge gap about it. I had a relapse. At the time I had a VI nerve palsy. The hyperacusis was awful at night time when trying to sleep. The noise of the radiator seemed really loud, also next door neighbours noises seemed to affect me and noises of the people I was living with too. Sensory overload. But in my opinion a VI nerve palsy in MS is quite a servere symptom being a swelling on the brain and should be treated as fairly urgent. I think the hyperacusis to some degree triggered my relapse following on from that as it caused me horrible night time anxiety attacks. I was very unwell. Hyperacusis does not seem to be that rare in MS when I discuss it on MS forums patients are opening up about their experiences. Some people with MS also report sensory sensitivity to bright lights.  

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


  • I'm the patient who had the VI nerve palsy (my first MS symptom) and had the night time anxiety attacks due to the hyperacusis, it was giving me stomach pains and my hands were clenched as fists. It was pretty extreme and it went on for too long unfortunately. A long storey but the GP referred me as non-urgent as he thought my double vision was part of BPPV. When I finally had my examination with the first neurologist 17 days later who was a registrar it would have been really good if he had asked me 'are you sleeping well?' as I wasn't. I was not overly aware of what was happening to me at night time or causing the attacks but it's on reflection and with some neurological knowledge now I know this was hyperacusis. It's a shame I never got to discuss this at the time with a neurologist as it could of been treated.

  • I had some kind of flare up 15 or more years agoin or around my left ear that affected my balance and has left me with loss of hearing, permanent tinittus and sensitivity to loud/shrill noise. Never been acknowledged as an MS relapse amongst the other relapses as 'very rare'. SPMSer now.

  • VI and VII palsy's in MS are these often triggered by ear infections? My VI nerve palsy was triggered by an ear infection. My aunt had Ramsey Hunt Syndrome which was suspected triggered by an ear infection (varicella zoster virus). She had what seemed a VII nerve palsy (facial weakness to one side) and also had severe hyperacusis.

By Prof G



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