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Misophonia - Hatred of Sound

Updated on November 24, 2014

Misophonia How do I know if I have it?

Misophonia is for real; if you think you have it because someone is chewing with his or her mouth open or popping their gum, think again. It's much more serious than this. Misophonia is linked with intense anxiety and anger emotions like that of a knee jerk reaction. Symptoms include neck muscle tension, sweating, quickened heartbeat, pacing, feeling of suffocation, panic attacks, fatigue, and disconsolate.

Misophonia Defined

Misophonia, literally "hatred of sound", is a neurological disorder in which negative experiences (anger, flight, hatred, disgust) are triggered by specific sounds. -Wikipedia

A 2013 review of the most current neurological (MRI) studies of the brain relating to this disorder hypothesizes that abnormal or dysfunctional assessment of neural signals occurs in the anterior cingulate cortex and insular cortex (limbic cortex - inside-middle portion of the brain). Simply put, some people have a heightened awareness to external stimuli and process the stimuli at an intense velocity, completely overwhelming the individual. Sounds and movements are beyond distractions, they incapacitate. Noises such as doors slamming, metal & rope clacking against a flagpole, a barking dog, loud voices, laughter, tires rolling over a loose metal grate, sounds that never diminish the hair-trigger, each time it happens, it seems like the first time.

Triggers

People who have misophonia are most commonly angered by specific sounds, such as slurping, throat-clearing, people clipping their nails, brushing their teeth, chewing crushed ice, eating, drinking, breathing, sniffing, talking, sneezing, yawning, walking, chewing gum, laughing, snoring, typing on a keyboard, whistling or coughing; saying certain consonants; or repetitive sounds. -The New York Times

50 Top Intolerable Triggers

1. Slamming front doors / car doors

2. Exhaust pipes of loud motorcycles

3. Crackling of a potato chip bag (hand reaching in)

4. Chewing with mouth open

5. Chewing with lips apart (lip-smacking)

6. Breathing-gurgle

7. Sniffling (repetitively)

8. Snorting (sinuses / back of throat)

9. Snoring

10. Sneezing (loudly)

11. Coughing (repetitively or loudly)

12. Sighing (repetitively)

13. Hawking a loogie

14. Barking (small dogs-more extreme)

15. Cats meowing (mating season-more extreme)

16. Snickers

17. Cackles

18. Laughter (loud-repetitive-faux)

19. Condescending tones

20. Kids crying (whining-more extreme)

21. People talking loudly on cell-phones

22. One person talking more loudly than others in a group

23. Water dripping (or running next door)

24. Running toilet (unattended)

25. Expanding pipes clacking behind walls and ceilings

26. Wind blowing through a cracked window or sliding glass door

27. Wind blowing through a vent

28. TV / Radio commercials

29. TV turned on

30. Plastic wheels rolling over tile

31. Grocer -stocking hard-plastic bag items on shelves

32. Anything that comes into contact with a metal banister

33. Bass sounds of car stereos

34. Sounds emanating from earbuds

35. Squeaky fan belt

36. Squeaky chair

37. Jet engine exhausts

38. Diesel engines

39. Jake brakes

40. Car horn

41. Car alarms

42. Parking squelch (car alarm)

43. Car idling

44. Certain birdcalls

45. Certain foreign languages

46. Shuffling feet

47. Stomping feet

48. Sounds of exertion in a gym

49. Sounds of exertion (next door)

50. Gasoline powered leaf blowers (illegal in many cities across the U.S.)

Sounds That Irritate Women

Which sound did women vote (overwhelmingly) as most irritating?

See results

Sounds That Irritate Men

Which sound did men vote as most irritating?

See results

Coping Mechanisms

If you live in an apartment complex your best bet is to use acoustic soundproofing foam in a room that you can designate as your own. The foam typically comes in 12" x 12" squares. Use spray adhesive to glue the pieces together and to the wall. I soundproofed a doorway for $80, I could still hear voices next door, but it's muffled. There's nothing more annoying than listening to mindless chatter from people talking loudly on a telephone or to each other who like to hear themselves talk and pretend they're important.

Determine which noises will roughly happen at the same time each day of the week and prepare yourself for it. For example, if a neighbor's Harley is going to fire up each morning at 6:30 A.M. Make it a point to get to bed by 11:00 P.M. so you can get up around 6:20 A.M. before the motorcycle starts up, then hop in the shower, the sound of water splashing on your head will drown out most of the noise. If you like to exercise, start the walk or the run right before everybody leaves for work (schedule permitting). If you have to tolerate the noise, keep reminding yourself that the noise will pass, and there will be a time of peace and quiet.

Earplugs typically are a joke, barely work, but are a necessity if you have to be at a place that has annoying or loud noises. Do not let anyone (i.e. coworkers, students) know about your condition if you don't have to (if you have long hair, you can hide the earplugs), some people will increase the frequency of noises that irritate you, they like the reaction. During lunch hour, if you have to sit in the break room, find an area that is next to a vent or fan (white noise), it will soothe the sounds of idle chatter around you while at the same time providing you some fresh air.

Only if you're taking an exam, or have an extremely thought-intensifying task at work should you go over and politely ask the person making all the racket to simmer down. If they're eating a bag of chips or pretzels, ask if they can pour the contents onto a napkin (preventing the fumbling reach-in bag crackle). If they chew like a horse eating carrots, then the bleak decision has to be made who is going to leave the room.


Treatment Options:

Currently there is no known cure for a Misophonia condition.

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