It’s only natural to get aggravated by certain sounds — like nails on a chalkboard. But sound sensitivity goes beyond that with misophonia.
Misophonia describes a hypersensitivity to small or repeated sounds that make them unbearable. The sound can even cause extreme distress, forcing someone to leave the room, cover their ears, or scream for it to stop.
It’s also common for people with misophonia to start avoiding people and situations altogether just to stay clear from the sounds that trigger that strong reaction.
If you find yourself hypersensitive to sound or avoiding certain people and places, Sharp Hearing Care Professionals — with locations in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Tarzana, and Santa Monica, California — can help. Here’s what you should know about this condition, seven common misophonia triggers, and how we can help you manage your symptoms.
How misophonia works
What sets this condition apart from other sound sensitivities is how the sound triggers a physiological response, including the natural fight-or-flight instinct.
Misophonia reactions fall into three categories:
- Emotional: fear, anxiety, disgust, irritation, or anger
- Physical: increased blood pressure or heart rate, goosebumps, sweating, or chest tightness
- Behavioral: avoidance, fleeing, vocal responses, nonviolent or violent efforts to stop the sound
Misophonia can develop at any age, but it often appears during the early teenage years. Symptoms can vary from person to person, but they often share similar triggers.
Seven common misophonia triggers
Unlike sounds that most people find irritating — like squealing brakes or nails on a chalkboard — misophonia triggers are often less offensive.
People with misophonia often respond to seven types of triggers:
- Eating and drinking sounds, such as chewing, crunching, slurping, swallowing, or lip smacking
- Breathing noises, such as sniffling, nose blowing, heavy breathing
- Mouth and throat noises, such as coughing, loud kissing, or throat-clearing
- Repetitive sounds, such as tapping fingers or toes, ticking clocks, clicking pens, mechanical humming, or water dripping
On top of those auditory triggers, some people with misophonia can also respond to visual triggers. Examples include seeing someone chewing with an open mouth, rubbing their nose, or jiggling a leg or foot.
In most cases, people with misophonia can make these sounds themselves without issue. However, it can become unbearable when they hear the same sounds coming from someone else.
Living with misophonia
Hearing a sound that puts you on edge here and there is bad enough. When you have misophonia, it can happen every day. Fortunately, our skilled team of audiologists has ways to help you cope.
It all starts with a thorough audiology assessment to look for ear or hearing problems associated with misophonia. Based on your evaluation, we could suggest a variety of strategies, including:
- Misophonia retraining therapy to reduce your reaction to triggers
- Custom-made earmolds to deliver pleasant sounds, like white noise or music, directly into your ear
- Noise-canceling headphones to increase comfort when exposed to triggers
It’s tempting for people with misophonia to use hearing protection that blocks all sounds. However, we don’t recommend this approach unless you’re under the supervision of one of our audiologists. Without proper care, these devices can alter your sound perception, increasing your intolerance to even more sounds.
Do you have misophonia? Get expert care today by contacting the team at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals.