What is meant by noise sensitivity in children?
The hearing apparatus of the human is a complex system and it interacts with certain parts of the brain through nerve links in order to perceive, interpret and respond as appropriate to the environmental sounds. In its normal form, a person would be able to tolerate many of the noise frequencies encountered in day to day life except for the artificial and not so common sounds which are high in frequency or is loud in intensity. But, in certain groups of individuals including both adults and children, certain noises which are perceived as normal by many would be perceived as a discomforting sensory input which at times can even be unbearable. Such hypersensitivity states are known as ‘hyperacusis’ or abnormal noise sensitivity both in adults as well as in children.
What are the symptoms of noise sensitivity among children?
When the child is unable to explain the discomfort caused by certain noises, they may become irritable when presented with such noises and it will manifest as excessive crying, screaming, hitting, biting covering the ears, self harm or else as wanting to get away from such noises. An older child may be able to explain what he or she feels and could develop phobias in encountering such noises at a future time. They may also become isolated as they try to avoid social interactions and events which may expose them to such noises. At the same time, many other symptoms which are not directly related to the hyperacusis might also be present among these children as they may also be suffering from various other medical disorders.
What causes children to develop hyperacusis?
Although an exact mechanism, which is not debatable among scientists for hyperacusis, is still not available, certain other medical disorders and conditions have been associated with this condition by medical experts. Among them, autism and asperger’s syndrome have been encountered among many children whom are hyperacustic.
Another common cause for hyperacusis is the frequent or severe ear infections which would disrupt the inner ear. In such instances, the nerves as well as the hearing apparatus in the ear cavity could be affected and thus can lead to excessive sensitivity towards certain noises. Viruses have also been linked with the possibility of hyperacusis although it may not manifest as a usual ear infection.
Apart from the above mentioned causes, use of certain drugs as well as trauma to the head can also lead to hypersensitive state of hearing and in most instances; the cause for hyperacusis would remain unknown.