The adage “silence is golden” is a phrase commonly tossed around. Usually it’s brought up when someone is being too noisy, but for those living with hyperacusis, it’s a way of life.

For Joyce Cohen and her husband Ben Meltzer, they are constantly on the lookout for quiet places. Fortunately, Joyce has the ability to wear hearing protection wherever she goes, but Ben isn’t as lucky. Mostly confined to his New York apartment, the pressure from sound-absorbing ear muffs causes him great discomfort.


Hyperacusis is a condition that causes someone to be unable to tolerate everyday noise levels without discomfort or pain. The term is commonly applied to people who experience everyday sounds as intrusively loud, uncomfortable, and sometimes as painful. This condition may be influenced by a disease, loud noise exposure, or induced by certain drugs.

What are the symptoms of hyperacusis?
The sound level known to cause physical pain usually occurs at a level of approximately 120 dB. However, we generally reach a point where we feel that sound is too loud long before we reach the threshold of pain.

Some common symptoms of hyperacusis are:

  • Experiencing sounds that make it difficult to concentrate, cause tension or anger.
  • Self-isolation from sounds or loud environments.
  • Development of a fear of noise, known as phonophobia.
  • Pain caused by sudden, high-pitched noises, such as alarms, bus brakes, clapping, etc.

Learn more about Ben and Joyce, follow this link to their ABC News documentary. For diagnosis and treatment information, visit the Universal Hearing Care office in Tarzana, California. Call us at 818.345.3200  or send us a message to schedule your appointment today!