The Intolerable Sounds of Misophonia

How many times have you said to yourself.“I can’t hear myself think!” or “That noise is driving me crazy!”

Misophonia is a disorder in which certain sounds trigger emotional or physiological responses. According to some. the responses may be unreasonable given the circumstance.

dawn sunset beach woman

The reactions to certain sounds can range from anger and annoyance to panic and the need to run away. These sounds can be someone chewing gum, or tapping their finger on a desk. Every day sounds made by humans become intolerable.

Similar to triggering the ‘fight or flight’ reflex, the reactions to everyday sounds can lead to feelings of anxiety and rage.

A Few Facts about Misophonia:

  • A person’s reaction to certain sounds can be so powerful it interferes with their ability to live life normally.
  • Since misophonia is a newly identified health disorder, treatment options are still limited and no specific medications or treatments have been found yet.
  • The term means “hatred of sound,” but not all sounds are a problem for people with sound sensitivity.

Mimicking certain sounds is an unconscious response some have to the sounds that trigger this condition. It is this mimicry that may enable them to better handle the uncomfortable situations they may find themselves in.

Persons with misophonia have developed other coping mechanisms to provide some relief. A few strategies for managing sound sensitivity include:

  • using headphones and music to drown out trigger noises
  • wearing earplugs to limit noise intrusion
  • opting for seating on buses and in restaurants that distance trigger sounds
  • practice self-care with rest, relaxation, and meditation to reduce stress
  • when possible, leave situations where there are trigger sounds
  • seek out a supportive doctor or therapist
  • speak calmly and frankly with friends and loved ones to explain misophonia

Trying to tell a person with misophonia to “just ignore” their triggering sounds is similar to telling a person with depression to “snap out of it,” and is just as unlikely to be helpful.

woman looking at photo album
Photo by Dominika Roseclay on

Both men and women can develop misophonia at any age. Most common is those who develop symptoms in late childhood or early teen years. For many people, their first episodes are triggered by one specific sound, and eventually  additional sounds can bring on their responses, as well.

People do realize that their reactions to sounds are excessive and the intensity of those feelings can make them feel as though they were losing control. Symptomatic responses of misophonia include:

  • irritation turning to anger
  • disgust turning to anger
  • becoming verbally aggressive to the person making the noise
  • getting physically aggressive with objects, because of the noise
  • physically lashing out at the person making the noise
  • taking evasive action around people making trigger sounds

Physiological responses include:

  • pressure throughout the body, especially the chest
  • muscle tightness
  • increases in blood pressure
  • more rapid heartbeat
  • increases in body temperature

One study found that 52.4 percent of its participants with misophonia could also be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD).

In Amsterdam, a study found the most common triggers for misophonia are:

  • eating sounds, affecting 81 percent of those studied
  • loud breathing or nose sounds, affecting 64.3 percent
  • finger or hand sounds, affecting 59.5 percent

Humans make most of the sounds and sights that trigger misophonia.

Some children with autism can have diffidulty with sensory stimulation, loud sounds. At this point, however, it is too early to tell if there’s a direct connection. Scientists lack sufficient knowledge about which condition causes people to react so strongly to sounds.

In 200, the term was first used to describe a disorder. Considered a chronic condition and a primary disorder, it doesn’t develop in association with other conditions. Misophonia is not yet classified in the DSM-5, and so technically, one can’t be diagnosed with this condition. pexels-photo.jpg

Some researchers suggest that the misophonic reaction is an unconscious or autonomic response of the nervous system, because of the physical reactions people with sound sensitivity experience, and the fact that substances, such as caffeine or alcohol, can make the condition worse or better.

Advocacy groups such as Misophonia International, seek to provide information and bridge the gap between research and those individuals affected by this disorder.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close