ABC Radio’s Health Report has a programme about Superior Canal Dehiscence Syndrome, a condition that leads to supersensitive hearing. So sensitive, in fact, that whispers can sounds like thunder, and sufferers can hear their own bloodflow and eyeball movements.
The condition is thought to occur due to a crack in the bony casing that surrounds the inner ear.
Normally, sound is channeled from the outside world, through the ear canal to the inner ear. Here lies the cochlea, the organ that translates sound waves to nerve impulses for the brain.
This arrangement efficiently picks up and filters external sound. When the bony casing to the inner ear is damaged, however, the filtering is thought to stop working as efficiently, so sounds ‘leak in’ from other places – including from the inside of the body.
People with this condition have very sensitive hearing, sometimes leading to pain and discomfort. Occasionally, their strange experiences are mistaken for mental illness, where unusual perceptions can sometimes occur.
A person interviewed for the programme describes her experience as where:
Eyeballs sound like creaking doors, eyelids opening and closing have a scratchy sound, bones and joints creak.