Hyperesthesia: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

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Hyperesthesia is an increased sensitivity to the stimuli. It could be elevated sensation of touch, hearing, smell or vision for instance. Increased touch sensitivity is called tactile sensitivity or tactile defensiveness while auditory sensitivity is the name given to increased sound sensation.

Causes

Excessive consumption of caffeine can temporarily induce this condition in humans, due to excessive stimulaton of the spinal cord, as well as the cortex and medulla in the central nervous system. However, this is far from the only cause, and usually wears off after 3-5 hours.

In some cases, an outside stimulus is not involved and it is triggered by overstimulation of the area of the brain involved in sensation, in which case the hyperesthesia should resolve within a few hours. Whenever hyperesthesia occurs, it is advised that the patient may lie in a cool, quiet, dark place to resolve the condition. In some, aerobic breathing exercises and physiotherapy is beneficial.

Chronicity

But when hyperesthesia manifests as chronic, a neurologist is consulted who may prescribe medications such as analgesics to dull sensation, anti-seizure medications, and also anti-anxiety drugs.

Tactile hyperesthesia

Tactile sensitivity could occur in ADHD, fragile X syndrome and autism. According to a large study conducted at Hebrew University, 69 percent of boys with ADHD also had tactile hyperesthesia. It may be present as a symptom in neurologic disorders such as herpes family viral infections, peripheral neuropathy and radiculopathies. When the respective neurologic disorder is treated, hyperesthesia is simultaneously treated. Tactile sensitivity in children is treated by therapy under the guidance of a trained occupational therapist. In the process the child is guided through structured but fun-filled activities that challenge the child’s sensation, according to the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.

Treatment

Treatment is based on underlying cause of the symptom. If the symptom is treated, hyperesthesia in other words could also be treated. For example, hyperesthesia, which occurs in vitamin B12 deficiency, is treated by prescribing vitamin B12 supplements.

Non-human presence

Other than humans, cats and dogs are also the sufferers of hyperesthesia. In cats it is known as Feline hyperesthesia or Rolling Skin Syndrome or Twitchy Cat disease. The cats having feline hyperesthesia exhibit odd, hyperactive, often aggressive behavior including biting, snapping, and self mutilation due to increased sensation. However, unlike in humans, the cause of hyperesthesia is unknown, though various theories have been suggested such as cats highly anxious or aroused or aggressive are more prone to show the symptoms of hyperesthesia. But the causes still remain a mystery. The treatment in cats involve making sure the cat doesn’t engage in aggressive cat fights, making its environment more home friendly that it enjoys it and finds it less stressful and engaging it in different exercises like chasing a feather for example. In few cases anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications may be necessary after referral to a neurologist.

For a much detailed article on Hyperesthesia visit our Medicalopedia Reference Encyclopedia  (MRE)

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  • emman

    i am physiotherapist by my profession i want to know that if any girl aged 20 years old have pain in the skin of skull even with the touch of fingers ,air blow, and movement of hairs…then what should it be exactly and to whom should he be examined??kindly reply me soon on my email

    • Anonymous

      emman,

      consider bartonella . . . or neuroborelliosis or other vector-borne chronic infections. You might start with the websites for ILADS.org . . . and for LymeDisease.org to find a doctor who can best assess.

    • Anonymous

      Did u receive an answer to this? My daughter is 19 and is having all of those symptoms along with a an unusual flare of severe acne and says she feels like she is “allergic to her own skin”; all of her senses are elevated to the point of pain. She is also having extreme anxiety and nightmares. All of this has occurred since her Zoloft was increase from 150 to 200 mg, due to panic attacks. Where do we look for the appropriate help????

  • Anonymous

    Where sound is too much, hyperacusis should be considered (and one cause can be lyme – or other tick borne infections that often go with lyme). With severe hyperacusis, SCD should be considered. Find the support site for Superior Canal Dehiscence for assessment details.

    Porphyria can be involved in any of the sensitivities, as well due to the liver not being able to metabolize the body’s waste and toxicity buildup.

    • rajinder

      Try to evaluate the pt. for following and then after the conclusion it will be easy to treat . 1.Occipital neuralgia[occipital nerve ]. 2. Trigeminal neuralgia . 3.Migrain .

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  • Rebecca Wood

    Can you offer any guidance? My daughter is 19 and is having all of the symptoms “emman” asked about, along with a an unusual flare of severe acne and says she feels like she is “allergic to her own skin”; all of her senses are elevated to the point of pain. She is also having extreme anxiety and nightmares. All of this has occurred since her sertraline was increase from 150 to 200 mg, due to panic attacks. Where do we look for the appropriate help????

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