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Misophonia: These Sounds May Trigger Your Noise Sensitivity

Misophonia is a relatively rare condition impacting roughly 15 percent of adults. Join Flo as we delve into the origins of this noise sensitivity disorder, its triggers, and misophonia treatment.

Exactly what is misophonia? It’s a noise sensitivity condition believed to affect approximately 40,000,000 Americans. 

Simply put, misophonia is a disorder in which specific sounds cause involuntary, sometimes extreme, emotional responses in an individual. Trigger noises, that don’t elicit a reaction in most, lead misophonia patients to experience sudden panic, intense annoyance, and even an uncontrollable desire to flee. 

Typically, oral sounds like chewing, yawning, or breathing can provoke strong emotions in those diagnosed with misophonia. Unfortunately, this unique noise sensitivity condition is poorly understood, leaving many individuals feeling incredibly embarrassed and isolated. 

Though it doesn’t appear to be genetic, misophonia usually presents itself between the ages of 10 and 12. No specific misophonia test currently exists, but it’s important to consult your health care provider if you regularly experience dramatic responses after exposure to certain noises.

As each case of misophonia is quite different, it’s virtually impossible to create an exhaustive list of all potential triggers. However, some noises are more likely to act as misophonia triggers than others. 

Aside from the oral examples mentioned above, the following sounds may be more than someone with misophonia can bear:

  • Babies crying
  • Dogs barking
  • Plastic wrappers crinkling
  • Muffled voices through walls
  • Pens clicking  

Interestingly enough, it’s not the specific sound that initially creates the trigger, but rather the intense response that results from hearing it. When someone with noise sensitivity finds themselves in a situation that sets off a severe reaction, they’ll forever associate that situation with a negative response. This is true no matter what type of sound they may have heard. 

As such, misophonia triggers can spread, gradually including an array of similar noises, environments, and even people associated with the original incident. This snowball effect allows the condition to grow and worsen, making misophonia patients feel anxious and stressed out. They might choose to avoid social situations as a measure of self-preservation.

While medical issues like the flu, asthma, PTSD, or postpartum anxiety all have fairly standard courses of treatment, misophonia isn’t nearly as straightforward. 

Due to the lack of knowledge and research on noise sensitivity, there’s no concrete misophonia treatment plan at this time. Since misophonia hasn’t actually been classified as a confirmed psychiatric disorder (despite mounting evidence), establishing a treatment protocol is challenging. 

But even in the absence of comprehensive misophonia treatment, help is definitely available. Therapy and the adoption of various coping mechanisms could be highly beneficial for those with misophonia. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for instance, is specially designed to realign negative thoughts and experiences. CBT serves as a method of altering the typical misophonia-related behaviors by breaking the connection between situational triggers and certain sounds. This way, the occurrence of extreme misophonia responses can be significantly reduced. 

Additionally, tinnitus (noise in the ears) retraining therapy (TRT) may also function as a form of misophonia treatment. It’s built on the principles of assisting individuals in increasing their tolerance to noises they strongly dislike. Rather than eliminate the trigger, it would focus on enhancing the misophonia patient’s ability to hear a particular sound without reacting negatively. TRT is a potentially effective alternative to the CBT approach. 

Considering that misophonia frequently arises in childhood, early treatment could be very beneficial. Since options like TRT and CBT are more suitable for adults with noise sensitivity, different methods must be implemented when providing misophonia treatment to children.

A widely suggested approach for kids involves helping them develop stress-management skills, particularly with regards to their low threshold for noises. Instead of flying into a rage or seeking escape when exposed to a misophonia trigger, they could apply one of several coping mechanisms to the situation. Once a young person begins to replace extreme responses with more constructive behavior, it may reduce the overall impact of misophonia on their life. 

Note that placing someone with misophonia in a quiet room, having them eat in isolation, or providing noise-canceling equipment are not appropriate forms of misophonia treatment. Behavioral and psychological strategies have proven much more successful at getting to the heart of noise sensitivity disorders. Furthermore, they will equip misophonia patients with useful coping techniques for day-to-day life. 

Despite the current lack of research and clinical methods for noise sensitivity treatment, misophonia is a very real condition that should not be ignored. Severe cases can be emotionally, psychologically, and socially debilitating. 

Many individuals with misophonia feel misunderstood, isolated, or even ashamed of their reactions to ordinary noises that others appear totally unfazed by. When misophonia takes over your life, the chances of improvement or recovery seem hopelessly slim. 

But this could not be further from the truth. Although treatment is still in its early stages, numerous types of therapy and coping mechanisms could provide some degree of relief. Whether it’s with the aid of CBT or TRT, or simply working to boost your tolerance levels to triggers, misophonia doesn’t have to control your life.  

If you regularly find yourself displaying intensely acute responses to environmental noises and don’t know why, misophonia might be the reason. Consider making an appointment with your health care provider for further evaluation.





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