It is natural for people to sometimes be annoyed with sounds throughout their day. Nails on a chalkboard, loud chewing, incessant pen clicking, etc. However, those with misophonia suffer extreme physical and emotional reactions to sounds. Feelings of anger and anxiety can arise from hearing innocent, everyday sounds others might not even notice.  Misophonia is a newly identified health disorder and one that may affect many people unknowingly.

Misophonia Definition

Literally translated, Misophonia means “hatred of sound”. In fact, it refers to a dislike or hatred of very specific sounds that trigger an emotional or physical response. It can be very similar to the fight-or-flight response and will put those affected into a state of discomfort. Hearing the sound triggers a desire to escape and anger. Also, how strong a reaction is and how someone with misophonia responds varies a lot. Some may just become irritated while others can go into a complete rage. 

Both men and women can start to develop it at any age. However, people generally start to show misophonia symptoms in their late childhood and early teenage years. Though it is possible to present at any time. Often, it will start with one sound that will trigger a reaction. Since then, other sounds can also get the same response.

An interesting note is that people with misophonia can see their reactions to these sounds seem disproportionate to the sounds itself. Because of this, they might feel like they are losing control of themselves. The feelings can be very intense and might give them feelings of embarrassment or shame. In fact, people often feel too embarrassed to talk to their doctors about it.

Associated Disorders

However, Misophonia also has some conditions associated with it as a result of the toll it takes. Depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD, and sleep deprivation are a few that are seen to occur. However, it is not always clear whether they come from Misophonia or the other way around. 

This sound sensitivity syndrome can have a profound effect on someone’s life. It is a very real disorder. It is a condition that can make it difficult to function, putting stress on one’s mental health and social life. But because we don’t know much about it, it can be difficult to talk about. 

Examples of Annoying Noises

Apparently, not all sounds have the same likelihood to trigger misophonia. While sound sensitivity can of course change between people, but there are certain sounds that seem to get more of a response. According to a study in Amsterdam, the most common triggers of people were as follows:

  • Eating sounds – eating sounds seem to affect the highest percentage of people. At 81 percent, this is the highest level of things that affect people with misophonia
  • Loud breathing or nose sounds – this one comes in at second place, with 64.2 percent of people being affected by loud breathing or nose sounds. 
  • Finger/hand sounds – any type of sounds of hands rubbing, or fingers moving comes in third with 59.5 percent.

But there are just a few of the things that really seem to be difficult for a misophone to deal with. Sound sensitivity can really be for anything. It is really unique to the person. However, many more sounds and such are triggers for people with misophonia.

  • Wheezing
  • Teeth grinding
  • Chewing with your mouth open
  • Slurping
  • Lip smacking
  • Loud throat clearing
  • Pen clicking

While it can be only sounds, it is possible that a sound and action combined can make someone with the disorder have a response.  A combination of the sound and action of someone biting their nails or shaking their leg on a table can be a trigger sound. 

Interestingly, humans produce most sounds and sights that trigger people with misophonia. If the sound comes from an animal eating, it usually will not trigger the same physical and emotional reactions.

It is important to note that while there are generalizations, anything is a possible source of sound sensitivity. Keeping track of sounds that trigger and what you feel assist you in being in control.

Misophonia Treatment

Medical Help

In all truth, this disorder can affect daily life. Many people who have Misophonia avoid social situations where they feel they can be triggered. With proper care, education, and treatment, Misophonia can be managed. With many types of healthcare professionals who can provide assistance to you and your friends and family, Misophonia treatment can help it become less of a preventative from you living your normal life. Therefore, education for yourself and family and friends around you can make life-changing differences. 

Because sufferers of Misophonia often have other conditions associated with it, you can get certain medications. These can treat things like anxiety, depression and lack of sleep. However, no medication is available today to treat misophonia itself.

Audiologists are able to take a look at your other auditory problems and see if there are other diagnoses with it as well. One common treatment is an in-ear white noise generator. Depending on what sounds you are hearing that trigger you, the earpiece can generate white noise at a frequency that will help hide the trigger sounds. Similarly, just wearing headphones can help deal with the everyday sounds outside that are so distracting and difficult to hear. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy can be another way to help. They teach how to find coping mechanisms to deal with sounds as they occur. Also, makes it easier to deal with triggers and can help lessen the impact. Occupational therapists can help people have a full sensory diet. It is a system used to balance out the sensory system helps lower the impact of triggers. This is useful in self-regulation when you can’t control what is happening around you.

Personal Lifestyle

Last but not least, you get some control. Your personal lifestyle matters. Getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep help you manage your stress and put you in a positive mindset. Having a quiet or safe place where you can go in your home will help you know there is someone you can go and not be bothered. Remember, setting up a safe space will keep you knowing there is always somewhere you can go and not worry about misophonia.

The key is to have a variety of things working together. A multi-disciplinary approach gives the best results.

Misophonia: Final Thoughts

We have many new conditions and disorders we are learning about at this age. The brain is a mystery we are unraveling. And so is misophonia. While people don’t know much about it, there are plenty of examples to know that this is afflicting many people around the world.

Remember, be sensitive to someone suffering from Misophonia. It is a disorder that can be difficult to live with. Proper education for both the people with the condition and those around them will make it much more manageable. In the end, it is still so new and research being done to figure out what Misophonia really will help those with misophonia life comfortable lives.







author avatar
Angel Rivera
I am a Bilingual (Spanish) Psychiatrist with a mixture of strong clinical skills including Emergency Psychiatry, Consultation Liaison, Forensic Psychiatry, Telepsychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry training in treatment of the elderly. I have training in EMR records thus very comfortable in working with computers. I served the difficult to treat patients in challenging environments in outpatient and inpatient settings
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