If you have misophonia, you know how frustrating it can be. Misophonia is a condition in which certain types of sounds can cause you to experience an intense emotional or physical response.
For example, the sound of someone chewing their food or drumming their fingers on a tabletop could cause you to become angry, fearful, or panicked, or could even provoke physical pain in your body.
Misophonia, which is a word that means “hatred of sound,” cannot be cured, unfortunately. But it can be managed with certain strategies.
Dr. Kevin Sharim and his team of care providers at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals are devoted to improving care for our patients with misophonia. We work with you to identify and implement management strategies that can reduce the impact that this condition has on your quality of life.
Here, we share some helpful tips for managing misophonia triggers.
Tip #1: Avoid mouth sounds
The most frequent triggers for misophonia reactions are “mouth sounds,” according to the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). These include chewing food or gum or making other sounds with the mouth, such as lip popping.
“Nose sounds” such as breathing, sniffling, or nose-blowing can also trigger reactions.
Naturally, you can’t always avoid mouth or nose sounds. But you can reduce your exposure to them by avoiding eating with other people, letting your dining companions know that mouth sounds can trigger you, and asking people around you not to chew gum or pop their lips.
Similarly, you can avoid nose sounds by keeping away from people with colds and allergies and asking friends and family to temporarily leave the room if they have to sneeze, blow their nose, or make other nose sounds.
Tip #2: Avoid finger sounds
“Finger sounds” create another top reaction trigger for people with misophonia. These include drumming on a table with one’s fingers, typing, clicking an item such as a pen, snapping one’s fingers, and other sounds made with the fingers.
As with nose and mouth sounds, you can protect yourself by making people around you aware of this trigger and asking them to avoid actions that lead to a reaction.
Tip #3: Use noise-canceling headphones
Noise-canceling headphones can block out trigger noises when you can’t avoid them in other ways. You can also consider using custom-made earmolds that utilize white noise, music, or other types of pleasant sound to help block out triggering noise.
Tip #4: Work with a therapist
Misophonia has some similarities to anxiety disorders, and as such, it may respond to anxiety-focused psychological therapy. (In fact, it is considered a cognitive condition rather than a hearing condition.)
Some therapeutic approaches to anxiety treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, can help people with misophonia.Ask your hearing care provider or your primary care physician for a referral to a psychologist or therapist specializing in anxiety.
Tip #5: Use misophonia retraining therapy
This is a type of therapy that uses pleasant sounds to restructure the way you react to trigger sounds. Over time, this type of exposure therapy can desensitize you to troublesome sounds.
Tip #6: Connect with other misophonia sufferers
Connecting with other people who live with misophonia could help you put the condition in perspective. It may also provide you with helpful coping strategies. Meet others with misophonia through the Misophonia Association social media pages.
Tip #7: Educate friends and family
Keep in mind that some people may not take you seriously when you tell them, for example, that their finger drumming can cause you to have a serious emotional or physical reaction. People can find it hard to understand that sounds can cause intense reactions.
One way around this is through education. Point doubters to reliable online information such as this explanation from NCATS or this article from Harvard Health Publishing.
We also invite you to bring your spouse, older children, or care partner with you to an appointment in our office to have their questions answered by your provider.
Tip #8: Take good care of your hearing
Although misophonia isn’t technically a hearing condition, other conditions, such as hearing loss, can worsen it. For that reason, it’s important for you to stay on top of your hearing health.
We can help you with that. The highly trained experts at Sharp Hearing Care Professionals feel honored to help our patients hear better and improve their quality of life. Whether you need a hearing test, audiology consultation, comprehensive hearing evaluation, or hearing aid consultation, we stand ready to assist you with sensitivity and professionalism.
We invite you to schedule an appointment with our care team by contacting one of our offices, which are conveniently located in Oxnard, Santa Barbara, West Hills, and Santa Monica, California.