Misophonia is a hearing condition that elicits an emotional response. It is defined as a fear of or hatred of specific sounds. Often, repetitive noises are misophonia triggers. For example, when someone is chewing loudly or tapping their foot, the noise may cause a strong response in some people.
Misophonia can be relatively minor. Certain sounds may cause a person to want to leave the room or cover their ears. However, the condition can also be severe, and it can cause an emotional outburst in some people. Certain individuals even feel rage or severe emotional instability when confronted with certain sounds.
If you are experiencing misophonia, the most important thing to do is to meet with an audiologist or other medical professional familiar with the condition. They can assess your hearing and determine if you are having other issues. Additionally, they can help you with your treatment plan and make recommendations for your home life.
This article will discuss misophonia and explore ways to live your best life, despite your hearing concerns. Continue reading to learn more about combatting misophonia.
What is Misophonia?
Misophonia is a hearing condition that directly translates to “fear of sound.” It is somewhat rare to experience a strong case of misophonia, but many people experience misophonia to a milder degree. In fact, upwards of 20% of the population deals with some form of misophonia.
Misophonia occurs when sound evokes an emotional response in the same way that ASMR does. However, while ASMR brings about relaxing and pleasant feelings, misophonia causes the opposite kind of reaction. When someone is experiencing misophonia, they may have mild or severe reactions. Some of the symptoms of misophonia include:
- Yelling at people making noises.
- Being physically aggressive towards people making noises.
- Avoiding people who often make triggering noises.
- Avoiding situations that are associated with triggering noises.
In addition to evoking an emotional response, misophonia can also sometimes cause physical symptoms. These may include:
- Chest tightening.
- Heart palpitations.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Increased heart rate.
- Muscle tightness.
These physical symptoms come as an extreme result of the anxiety, panic, and anger triggered by misophonia.
Many different noises can cause misophonia, but some are more commonly associated with the condition than others. Some of the most common triggers include:
- Talking with food in one’s mouth.
- Foot tapping.
- Teeth grinding.
- Throat clearing.
- Nose whistling.
Unfortunately, misophonia isn’t well understood, even in the medical community. Thus, many people who experience it don’t feel comfortable talking to their medical providers about their feelings. Even if they do, they may be met with skepticism, as even medical professionals may not be knowledgeable about this condition.
However, there are medical professionals, specifically audiologists, who have studied misophonia and understand it intimately. These professionals can offer potential treatment options and work to help people suffering from the condition.
Misophonia can be so severe that it disrupts an individual’s ability to live a normal life. They may find themselves so emotionally upset by the sounds around them that they avoid social situations altogether. Additionally, their relationships may be impacted because they have such a strong emotional response to sound. They may yell at people, cry, or even express rage.
Typically, certain sounds will trigger a person with misophonia. These sounds are often repetitive and normal to others. Typing, chewing, or tapping one’s foot can be extremely difficult for people with misophonia. Additionally, it’s been shown that repetitive motions can also make one’s misophonia even worse. Sometimes the visual component can serve to heighten the experience.
What Causes Misophonia?
Misophonia has no specific cause, but several conditions have been shown to co-occur. People with an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, severe anxiety, Tourette’s syndrome, and eating disorders have been shown to have a higher chance of developing misophonia.
According to Harvard University, the parts of the brain responsible for fear and long-term memories are activated by sound in people with misophonia. This helps to illustrate why individuals have such a strong emotional reaction to sound. Researchers have used whole-brain MRI scans to study an individual’s brains and have found that people experiencing misophonia have higher levels of myelin.
Myelin is a substance made up of fat and protein that forms around nerves, including nerves in the brain and spinal cord. It creates a sheath that helps electrical impulses transmit quickly throughout the body. While we have noted these results, it’s not yet known whether or not this extra presence of myelin is related to the condition of misophonia.
How Can I Fight Misophonia?
People experiencing misophonia may feel as if they’re completely alone because no one understands their condition. Furthermore, they may actively isolate themselves to avoid the discomfort that comes with their condition. This can only make things worse, as when we have no support system, our issues often become worse.
However, there are things you can do to help fight your misophonia. First, if you seek out the help of a hearing specialist, there are several options that they can offer. First, they can consider tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT). This treatment option is typically used to help with tinnitus (ringing in the ear). When used in conjunction with directive counseling, TRT can help to retrain the brain so that you associate your triggers with positive thoughts and feelings.
Additionally, therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, can be helpful for people living with misophonia. It can help people to associate their triggers with positive thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Moreover, certain medications, such as Klonopin, which is an anticonvulsant and anti-anxiety medication, have been shown to be potentially effective.
Additionally, according to the Misophonia Association, certain lifestyle changes can help to fight misophonia. Some of the lifestyle changes that they recommend include:
- Frequent exercise.
- Regular healthy sleep.
- Using hearing protection such as earplugs or earmuffs when around loud noises.
- Spending time with others having fun (in a louder environment where you can avoid focusing on small, triggering sounds).
- Attending counseling sessions (perhaps with family members so they can understand).
- Re-arranging your home to foster quiet, non-triggering areas.
- Using support groups.
- Eating a healthy, vitamin-rich diet.
As you can see, there are many things you can do to help fight your misophonia. However, the most important thing you can do for yourself is to meet up with a professional who understands your condition. Certain audiologists and therapists can be very helpful in combatting tinnitus. Look into the options in your area and make sure to lean on your friends and family for support.