What is sensitivity to light or sound?

Light sensitivity (photophobia) and sound sensitivity (phonophobia) make it difficult to deal with everyday noises and normal daylight.

Sensitivity to light – photophobia

Photo-sensitivity is a common symptom following TBI, appearing in approximately 50% of cases. People with TBI can suffer from photophobia both in the early stage following a TBI, and in the chronic phase.1 Sensitivity to light should be diagnosed by your medical professional as it may be linked to other TBI symptoms including headaches and migraines, for which there are treatments available.

Examples of Sensitivity to light

  • Headaches or eye pain from exposure to bright lights
  • Feeling the need to wear sunglasses indoor or when there are fluorescent lights
  • Being unable to tolerate fluorescent lights

Sensitivity to sound – phonophobia

Noise sensitivity is a reduction in a person’s tolerance to ambient sounds such as a radio, noise from the neighbours or traffic. Following a TBI it is thought that 10% of people with persisting post-concussion symptoms (PPCS) experience noise sensitivity.2 Increased sensitivity to sound can be linked to other TBI symptoms such as fatigue. A study by Landon et al (2015)3 discusses the possibility that when TBI symptoms such as fatigue are high then sensitivity to noise also increases.

Sensitivity to sound should be diagnosed by your medical professional as it may also be linked to other TBI symptoms including headaches and migraines, for which there are treatments available.

Examples of Sensitivity to sound

  • Unable to cope in busy cafes / restaurants or shopping centres
  • Discomfort with common sounds such as vacuum cleaners, radios and the humming of appliances
  • Difficulty in attending social gatherings

 

References

  1. Wu Y, Hallett M. Photophobia in neurologic disorders. Transl Neurodegener. 2017;6:26. Published 2017 Sep 20. doi:10.1186/s40035-017-0095-3
  2. Hall, R. C. W., Hall, R. C. W., & Chapman, M. J. (2005). Definition, diagnosis, and forensic implications of postconcussional syndrome. Psychosomatics, 46, 195–202.
  3. Jason Landon, Daniel Shepherd, Stacey Stuart, Alice Theadom & Simone Freundlich. Hearing every footstep: Noise sensitivity in individuals following traumatic brain injury.