Misophonia and Sensitivity to Sound

22 Sep
sensitivity to sound by Deeside Ear Care

When faced with hearing-related symptoms that you’re unsure about. It can be difficult to know what to do.

Misophonia can cause a variety of symptoms but don’t worry, it’s quite uncommon. If you’re having adverse reactions to certain sounds, read on to find out what might be causing it.

What is Misophonia?

There are some people today who suffer from acute sensitivity to specific noises, this is Misophonia. These triggers can cause changes to their mood, making them sad, angry, rageful or even disgusted.

To others, Misophonia can seem strange because the sounds may not even be high in volume. But to those who deal with Misophonia on a daily basis, their triggers can be all-encompassing and disorientating. The term Misophonia originates from Ancient Greek, putting together ‘misos’ (hatred) and ‘phónè’ (voice).

Across the globe, it is estimated that one out of five people suffers from Misophonia. It can cause people to miss out on the enjoyment of life they might have otherwise. Furthermore, under one percent of these people are affected by the most severe symptoms, causing significant disruption to daily life.

Sadly, for people who are dealing with Misophonia on a day-to-day basis, there’s not much support. This is because Misophonia is not a recognised condition according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Nor is Misophonia considered a psychiatric ailment or hearing problem per see.

Despite the similarities, Misophonia cannot fall under Hyperacusis which is a distinct and recognised condition. Hyperacusis causes the normal sounds we hear on a daily basis to appear louder, without the negative emotional symptoms that Misophonia causes. Phonophobia, a different condition, is the fear of loud noises, though it’s not the same as Misophonia.

There are cases of people who are affected by visual triggers, causing the symptoms of Misophonia. Usually, auditory triggers cause more problems for those who suffer from Misophonia.

Misophonia Symptoms

Commonly, the majority of symptoms are discovered as a child or teenager. Whether it be irritability, anxiety, anger or a sense of disgust. Those with Misophonia can be affected by a variety of unpleasant feelings or negative emotions when confronted by their triggers.

In the heat of the moment, there can be aggressive behaviour made towards the source of the trigger noises, especially in childhood. Symptoms that are unable to be suppressed such as sweating, increased heart rate and muscular tension can be common too. These are caused by the nervous system, so you can see, Misophonia stretches beyond just affecting the mood.

What can trigger Misophonia?

The type of trigger sound varies from person to person, with each individual having triggers they’ve identified. However, there are common sounds which many sufferers will pinpoint as triggers.

It can be debilitating not being able to control external sounds, and people with Misophonia are affected by them greatly. These are a handful of noises that can be triggers:

  • Mouth noises (Chewing, slurping etc.)
  • Sniffling
  • Heavy breathing
  • Throat clearing
  • Nail biting
  • Cracking knuckles
  • Scratching

It is not only the nature of the sound that can be deeply distressing to those with Misophonia, but the repetition of sound can also cause problems. Various noises such as:

  • Pen clicking
  • Windscreen wipers
  • Keyboard tapping
  • Clicking

Diagnosing Misophonia

Unfortunately, if you think you might be affected by Misophonia, there is no official test to diagnose the condition. However, the common way to move forward is to make sure your ears are healthy in all other aspects. This will include eliminating these from the picture:

  • Hearing loss attributed to ageing
  • Tinnitus (high-pitched ringing in the ears)
  • Hyperacusis (lessened tolerance to normal sound)

Furthermore, the symptoms you might experience from Misophonia can cross over with other recognised conditions. These symptoms can also occur through the use of prescribed medications. So medical professionals will conduct various analytic tests in the first stages when presented with Misophonia-like symptoms.

Because Misophonia is hard to pin down and is not necessarily well known by doctors, it can be mistaken for other conditions. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and bipolar, are similar and therefore can be confused with Misophonia.

sensitivity to sound by Deeside Ear Care
sensitivity to sound by Deeside Ear Care

Misophonia and mental health

Misophonia can be difficult to work through as the individuals affected will tend to avoid contact with their known triggers. This can be detrimental to living a normal lifestyle which most of us enjoy.

Things like socialising with others, exposure to noise and even sleeping with others in the room, can be avoided. Naturally, this causes a negative impact on relationships that are vital to function in everyday life. School, work and relationships at home can all be affected by Misophonia. This can have the effect of causing further mental health issues.

Managing and Treating Misophonia

Because of the fact that Misophonia is not a recognised condition, doctors will tend to spend their time helping you treat the symptoms. This includes working with you to cope with the condition and problems you experience.

Misophonia is currently not curable, but there are many methods in which patients have been able to succeed in coping with the condition. Such methods include tinnitus retraining therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

There is also what’s called deconditioning. This is when the patient reinforces positive memories or experiences with their triggers.

There has also been success through the introduction of background or white noise to daily life with Misophonia. Fans and white noise generators can be recommended in this circumstance, as well as behind-the-ear devices.

The research suggests that four out of five individuals who suffer from Misophonia have successful alleviation of their symptoms through these treatments.

Treatments such as ear candling are not known to help with Misophonia.


Where Misophonia can be difficult to diagnose, sometimes other medical issues can be causing symptoms. Eliminating common hearing problems from the picture can be the first step.

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