Hearing and Sound Sensitivity

Some people with facial palsy may find that some sounds are much louder than normal. The medical term for this is ‘hyperacusis’ whereby normal sounds seem louder and we become hypersensitive to the sounds around us.  It could be something fairly insignificant, for example, coins jangling or car engines turning.

Whilst damage to the facial nerve can cause this distracting symptom it is not responsible for hearing or balance.  If you have a hearing loss as part of your symptoms then you should report this to your GP or diagnosing clinician, as it will require further investigation such as a range of hearing tests, (audiology assessment).


This is caused by facial nerve injury in the area of the stapedius muscle, located just behind the eardrum.  The stapedius muscle helps to reduce the vibration in our ear when we hear certain noises and very loud sound, for example, a sudden bang, a siren or a fire alarm.  By reducing the vibration of the sound as it passes through the ear, it dampens it down to limit the damage to our hearing.

What can help

Hopefully, as the nerve recovers your sensitivity to sound will improve.  However, it is a distracting and at times distressing symptom.  The following are potential therapies for managing it:

  • Sound therapy – this helps you get used to everyday sounds again and may involve wearing earpieces that make white noise (the sound you hear when the radio channel is not tuned in properly).
  • If you become very anxious about sound sensitivity you could try to access cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to change the way to think about it and reduce anxiety.
  • Trying some relaxation techniques may also help to ease anxiety.
  • Do not use earmuffs or earplugs unless it is an absolute necessity
  • Do not avoid noisy situations, as this will make you even more sensitive to noise
  • Talking to other people with similar symptoms may be helpful

The British Tinnitus Association https://www.tinnitus.org.uk/ may be able to offer advice and support.

Read more 

The facial nerve

What is facial nerve injury?

Hearing loss

Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash