Another weird deficiency symptom: oversensitive hearing

Over the past 10 years I’ve discovered that when my magnesium gets really low I develop an annoying sensitivity to noise. It took me a few years to put it together after the first time it happened. In that case it eventually resolved by itself, but not before I spent several months plotting the demise of an upstairs neighbor.

During my last attempts to improve my vitamin D3 status with 15,000 IU a day, I experienced it again. Vitamin D supplements in big enough doses can affect your levels of the B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and for me, vitamin K. And probably something else I’m forgetting at the moment. After a few weeks at this dose, the sensitivity to noise seemed to spring up in a matter of hours. I could suddenly hear the downstairs neighbor open and close her front door and all her other doors, too. I could also hear every other apartment door on my floor. Usually I only notice those sounds when a new tenant with bad door habits has just moved in.

(Speaking of which, if you are a parent who has allowed a child to go out into the world without knowing how to properly close a two-inch thick, solid wood door, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat the following: “I am a horrible person. Ebola is too good for me.”)

Luckily, this was an easy fix. After two days on maybe 800 mg of magnesium, the problem disappeared. One good thing about magnesium is that you don’t have to worry too much about how much to take. Unless you have a major heart problem, all you risk is the complete loss of your dignity should you overshoot the dose and not get to the bathroom in time.

Oddly enough, I first got wise to the idea that sensitivity to noise was a deficiency thing from a couple of novels. In one of Patrick O’Brian’s Capt. Aubrey books, the ship’s surgeon, treating either a scurvy or syphilis patient, refers to the painfully acute hearing of the terminally ill. Later I came across a novel set in Egypt, probably by Arundhati Roy but don’t quote me, in which the narrator refers to the extremely sensitive hearing of the very old or infirm. By that point I had learned that nutrients are depleted in illness and old age, so I figured that must be the problem.

Sandy Simmons has a page on her Connective Tissue Disorder site about her family’s experiences with hearing problems and nutritional deficiencies.

One thought on “Another weird deficiency symptom: oversensitive hearing

  1. Cas Allan

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve recently been diagnosed with a chronic lack of vitamin B12. My symptoms were depression, mood swings, very oversensitive to noise of any description and I live on a street leading to a school and near a busy main road so traffic noise is constant. I had severe memory loss for words and as a journalist it shut me down for working in that industry and also crippled my academic aspirations. I thought these symptoms were the result of chemotherapy I had for breast cancer in late 2013 or just because I am over 50. It was only by chance that my B12 levels were picked up in a routine blood test for my thyroid levels. I take Thyroxine and have been for 24 years. Please be very careful as you age to take a multivitamin supplement. The supplements smell awful, mine are kept in the garage, but the symptoms of lacking something are far worse.

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