Acoustic shock is a little-known condition. It includes a range of symptoms following a sudden, unexpected loud sound incident near the ear, causing a temporary or permanent impairment to the ear structures or associated nervous systems. The symptoms include (by Westcott):

  • Tinnitus, Hyperacusis
  • Dull ache in the ear, can radiate to cheek, neck, arm
  • Sensation of fullness/blockage in the ear
  • Sensations of burning, numbness
  • Muffled, distorted hearing
  • Loss of balance
  • Hearing loss

Possible explanations:

Westcott proposed Acoustic shock involves abnormal contractions of the tensor tympani muscle (Tonic Tensor Tympanic Syndrome – TTTS). Other proposed mechanisms include changes in the central nervous system. Pre-existing psychological conditions, such as stress/anxiety problem, increase the vulnerability of those to developing Acoustic Shock.

A proposed Acoustic Shock diagnostic guide includes (Grindleford Criteria) :

  • There must be a defined acoustic incident
  • Ear symptoms should start straight away or shortly afterward
  • Ear symptoms should be outside ‘physiological’ or ‘startle’ responses
  • Ear symptoms should be experienced in or arise from the exposed ear(s)
  • There may be significant psychological overlay/relationship to illness behaviour

If you want to discuss your hearing issue, please contact us for an appointment.