Hyperesthesia is described as the heightened sensitivity to the stimuli of a person’s senses. The condition may affect any one of your senses like touch, smell, sight or sound, or affect all the senses. There are individual names given to every stimulus of the sense. For instance, ‘’tactile hyperesthesia’’ means enhanced touch sensitivity and ‘’auditory hyperesthesia’’ is higher sound sensitivity.  

How Hyperesthesia affects a patient?

Various reasons contribute to causing Hyperesthesia. An instant stimulation triggers in the spinal cord in the medulla and cortex region, and also in the brain. This results in increased sensitivity in the patient. Although the problem may get resolved by itself within a few hours, patients are recommended to take absolute rest in a peaceful place with no kind of disturbance at all.

A person may complain of repeated occurrence of Hyperesthesia that leads to greater stimulation of the nerves causing hypersensitivity. It is not always that a person feels outside stimulus, but he/she will definitely feel the extent of the sensitivity in any or all of the senses.

Hyperesthesia Types

Human beings have five sense organs- eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin. Any unusual sensibility to the sensory stimuli like touch or pain is called Hyperesthesia. This rare sensitivity disorder is divided into five types as follows:

Acoustic Hyperesthesia

It is described as increased sensitivity to hearing. When a person suffers from abnormal acute hearing, the condition is defined as ‘Acoustic Hyperesthesia’. There are other synonymous medical terms used, such as, ‘Auditory’ or ‘Acoustic’ Hyperesthesia.

Gustatory Hyperesthesia

It is defined as a pathological or abnormal rise in the sensitivity of taste. Patients experience certain tastes differently than the normal way, especially bitter flavors that are felt more acutely.

Muscular/Tactile sensitivity or Hyperesthesia

Some people complain of severe sensitivity to touch. They can experience the severe pain in their muscles when the nerves are triggered. The patient feels very peculiar and noxious in pain. Tactile sensitivity is common in autism, fragile X syndrome, and ADHD.

It has been found by medical research that Tactile Hyperesthesia symptoms may also show up as neurological disorders like radiculopathies, peripheral neuropathy, and family viral infections. Hence, the condition gets medically treated when the neurological disorder is treated.

Auditory sensitivity

The condition is characterized by an abnormal increase in hearing because of the irritation caused due to a sensory neural mechanism. In simple words, the condition is described as the intolerance to all sorts of ordinary sound levels.

Optic Hyperesthesia

Optic Hyperesthesia is connected to the eyes. The condition is described as abnormal sensitivity to light. It may also affect your muscles and other organs that heighten the sensitivity in the vision.

Hyperesthesia Symptoms

The symptoms manifested by patients vary, depending upon which particular sense has been affected and the severity of the impact. The common symptoms of Hyperesthesia have been classified as follows:

  • As has been already mentioned, the symptoms vary from person to person, similarly, the responses to specific stimuli are enhanced abnormally. As a result, it heightens the arousal of senses in such patients.
  • Increased sensitivity, such as, vision or hearing sensitivity, touch or feel sensitivity, etc. The types of sensitivity depend upon the individual case.
  • People experiencing heightened smell sensitivity can report a range of smells due to the increased stimuli.
  • Patients with touch sensitivity may feel severe pain due to stimuli. The nerves are largely triggered due to which they feel the pain more than what it should have felt under any normal condition. For instance, loud noises have a greater impact on the brain.
  • In some people, the condition may attack the nervous system leading to the inflammation of the nerves and seizures.
  • Some people may experience a combination of all the above symptoms.

Hyperesthesia Causes

There is no one particular reason for Hyperesthesia. A number of factors contribute towards the cause of the medical condition. Several external stimuli induce the condition. Let’s have a look at what causes Hyperesthesia:

  • Overconsumption of alcohol or caffeine may cause Hyperesthesia by over-stimulating your nervous system. Research shows that external factors like alcohol or caffeine trigger overstimulation of the medulla and cortex in the central nervous system, as well as the spinal cord. However, the good news is that the spell wears off in 3 to 5 hours. During this short span, the person experiences increased sensitivity.
  • Viral infections cause shingles or skin rashes in some people. The condition is called Tactile Sensitivity, which gets over in just a few days.
  • Sometimes, accidents or certain diseases may damage one’s nerves and cause injury or compression. This may completely or partially impair the nerves, thus triggering enhanced sensory stimulation.
  • Those suffering from vitamin B-12 have the tendency to suffer from Hyperesthesia.
  • Children suffering from fragile X syndrome and also those victims of autism may develop Tactile Sensitivity over a period of time.
  • High sugar level has the tendency to damage the nerves, thus leading to Peripheral Neuropathy.

Hyperesthesia Diagnosis

The only way for a doctor to know whether you are suffering from Hyperesthesia or not is by listening to your symptoms. There is no specific test to prove Hyperesthesia. However, after listening to all the symptoms, the doctor may recommend any suitable test for recognizing the reason for the nerve pain.

Also, a blood test is required to be done for evaluating the patient’s levels of vitamins and sugar. The doctor even asks the patient about his/her alcohol consumption and the particular volume. Specific tests like an MRI scan and X-rays are required for assessing any problem in the brain. Also, a nerve conduction test is recommended for assessing the function of the patient’s nervous system.

Hyperesthesia Treatment

The type of treatment administered depends upon the underlying cause. These are the types of treatments generally advised:

  • It is normal for a patient to feel anxious and tense due to heightened sensitivity. In that case, the patient is generally advised to stay in a separate room and take rest with no kinds of disturbances around. This will help soothe down his/her nerves in a few hours.
  • Physiotherapy is also helpful in case of moderate to severe pain caused due to Hyperesthesia.
  • Doctors often refer to certain breathing exercises that may help relieve a person from stress and anxiety. The process helps in restoring one’s oxygen level.
  • The patient is recommended to stay on rich oxidants and a balanced diet.
  • Often, doctors recommend Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which works effectively in controlling the adverse responses that are triggered by the stimulus.
  • In all cases, the doctor first tries to determine the underlying cause in the spinal cord and the brain. According to the problem, a proper treatment is recommended. Anti-anxiety pills are given for relieving a patient from anxiety and fear. Also, anti-convulsive drugs are prescribed generally for epileptic patients.

You can take the following as preventive measures against Hyperesthesia:

  • Practice meditation and yoga on a regular basis.
  • You should also reduce alcohol consumption and smoking, as suggested by your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Hyperesthesia?

It is defined as a rare sensitivity disorder that enhances a person’s sensation of all types of senses, such as, touch sensitivity, smell sensitivity, vision sensitivity and auditory sensitivity.

What are the different types of Hyperesthesia?

Tactile Hyperesthesia, Auditory Hyperesthesia, Gustatory Hyperesthesia, Optic Hyperesthesia, Muscular Sensitivity.

What are the symptoms of Hyperesthesia?

Severe pain, inflammation of nerves, seizures, touch sensitivity, smell and touch sensitivity.

What are the causes?

Drinking excess alcohol, ADHD disorder, fragile X syndrome, high blood sugar, etc.

Types of test done to diagnose?

MRI scan, X-rays, blood test, etc.

Last updated on May 9th, 2018 at 10:33 am

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