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Misophonia - Facts and Treatment

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

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What is Misophonia

Misophonia is described as hypersensitivity to background sounds or visual stimuli that is usually ignored by most people. This word actually means “hatred of sound.” American neuroscientists, Pawel and Margaret Jastreboff, coined this term in 1991.

An individual with Misophonia does not have the ability to block out the offending noises or triggers, and they have an acute emotional response when they come into contact with one of these triggers. The triggers are usually connected to breathing or eating.

The most frequently cited objectionable sounds include lip smacking, chewing, swallowing, breathing, teeth or silverware clinking, plate scraping, paper tearing, fingernail biting, computer mouse clicking, or low pitched hums of electrical circuits or machines.

Each offending sound can lead to an extreme reaction. The offending sounds actually stimulate the “fight or flight response”, and the triggers often lead to extreme, blood-boiling rage. People with this condition know their response is irrational, yet they are unable to control their response.

If you think you might have this disorder, take the simple test on the Misophonia Institute website.

Selective Sound Sensitivity - Unknown Cause

This is such a newly recognized condition and a rare syndrome that many doctors are unaware of its existence. Misophonia is also referred to as Selective Sound Sensitivity, SSSS, 4S, and a few other names. It is not the same thing as Hyperacusis, as that is a condition that makes people sensitive to all sounds.

No one is born with this disorder, but there can be a genetic predisposition. The condition typically begins in young children about the age of 10 to 12. The pattern between different people is strikingly consistent. Obviously a child does not wake up one morning and decide "I think I will let the sound of chewing gum drive me nuts today".

Aage R. Moller, a University of Texas neuroscientist, states he has determined that this condition is hard-wired, the same way a person might be right or left handed, therefore, it is not an auditory problem but a physiological abnormality.

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About Misophonia

Different reactions to triggers can include rage, panic attack, loss of cognition, physical itching or crawling sensations and a strong urge to flee or fight. Sometimes people make some vocalizations in response to their triggers; others wear earplugs to block provocation.

There may be a gradual onset or a sudden one. It is not a psychological disorder, but a physiological one. There is no problem with the auditory pathway in the brain, but the strong reaction originates in the limbic (the emotional system in the brain) and the autonomic nervous system. These systems are both connected to the auditory system, which is responsibility for hearing.

Kelly and Regis

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Kelly Ripa

Kelly Ripa admitts she believes she has this condition during an episode of "Live! With Regis and Kelly". She stated that since childhood the sound of chewing “drives her nuts”. She trained her children to eat quietly with their mouths closed. She further stated that if her husband eats a peach she has to leave the house.

My Life With Misophonia

Misophonia Treatments

There is no known cure for Misophonia. Many people go from doctor to doctor and get a variety of diagnoses that are not correct.

There are a few treatments that have helped some people:

  • One is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), which is a type of tolerance therapy designed to help people with tinnitus by helping the patient become used to a low level disturbing sound.
  • Cognitive Behavior is designed to help people change their negative thinking and any behavior that might contribute to their condition. They emphasize eating a good diet and exercising to reduce stress, plus monitoring the thought process can also be helpful.
  • Psycho-therapeutic hypnotherapy utilized hypnosis to teach people to respond differently to their triggers,’
  • Sometimes anti-anxiety medications may have a positive impact.
  • Neurofeedback, which is brain wave feedback, is also being tested.
  • Some people use ear plugs or white noise devices to block the triggers.

There are a few support forums where hundreds of people come together to share experience. One of the effects of having this condition is a tendency to isolate; therefore, a support group is very therapeutic.

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Overcome Noise Sensitivity (Misophonia)

In Conclusion

I don't know anyone that has Misophonia, and there is really no way to know the number of people that suffer from this condition since it is so often misdiagnosed. Frequently it is labeled in one of the psychiatric disorders, unfortunately.

This condition causes a lot of anguish for the person that has the condition, as well as, their family. Some of the treatments have helped at least to some degree, but as of right, now there is no cure.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 21, 2020:

Hi Peggy,

I wonder if the similarities in some of these diseases make them hard to diagnoses. I don't know if that is the case here.

I appreciate your comments.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 20, 2020:

This condition is another one that you have brought to my attention. It must be reasonably rare since it was not even named until 1991. It must be terrible for people who suffer from it.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on October 27, 2014:

dezziexoxo, It would be nice to have some clear answers to your questions just so you know what to expect and it would be great if there was a cure for you. Iwish you the best and appreciate your comments.

dezziexoxo on October 24, 2014:

I have not been officially diagnosed, because it's hard to find someone who understands, let alone has even heard of this, but I am 100% sure I have misophonia. I have unfortunately developed several triggers over the past few years such as chewing and any other noises related to food, biting nails, animals "grooming" themselves, wind chimes, dogs barking, whistling, sounds through walls, and many more. I'm 18 years old, I've been dealing with this since I was maybe 12? Possibly earlier. I try to look for articles written about this to see if anyone has found out anything about the disorder. I don't believe it has anything to do with a virus (though I could be proven wrong) because I've never had one that is quite serious. I've read it can be genetic (either your parent can have it or just carry the gene, my mother thinks she may have a more mild form than mine), I've also read it may be associated with synesthesia in some way, where wiring in the brain is slightly different, those with synesthesia can "taste colors" and "see music". Or for example, they will always see the number 3 as the color orange. I'm hoping more research will be done on this soon, I'm majoring in psychology, so maybe I can contribute to the study someday (: